15 votes

Advice from a doctor who studied coronaviruses for 50 years

14 comments

  1. miles
    Link
    Snopes reached out to James Robb and confirmed he was the actual author. They also confirmed his history studying coronaviruses going back to the 1970s: Did a Noted Pathologist Write This Viral...

    Snopes reached out to James Robb and confirmed he was the actual author. They also confirmed his history studying coronaviruses going back to the 1970s:

    Did a Noted Pathologist Write This Viral Coronavirus Advice Letter?

    13 votes
  2. patience_limited
    (edited )
    Link
    I thought I'd do my own research on two of the key claims. First, the claim about persistence of coronaviruses on inanimate surfaces. To my considerable dismay, the claim of "a week" in the letter...

    I thought I'd do my own research on two of the key claims.

    First, the claim about persistence of coronaviruses on inanimate surfaces. To my considerable dismay, the claim of "a week" in the letter is an underestimate - the most recent publication indicates that infectious human coronaviruses can persist on surfaces up to 9 days at temperatures below 30°C. WIRED Magazine reports here on studies with SARS-CoV-2 specifically.

    This does not prove inanimate surfaces are a significant source of infections, at least outside of hospital settings where sick patients and their caregivers are concentrated. Based on current sources, COVID-19's principal route of infection is by virus-carrying particles of spit or mucus ejected when infected people cough or sneeze. These travel up to 6 feet, and that's why it's recommended to maintain distance from others.

    Hand-washing and avoiding contact with potentially contaminated surfaces is necessary, but insufficient to prevent infection. For the general public, gloves and knuckle-touching are unlikely to prove more useful than just staying isolated as much as possible, maintaining distance from others if isolation isn't feasible, and hand-washing before touching your face or eating/drinking.

    Second, the evidence for zinc supplementation pertains to the class of illness we refer to as "common colds". This class includes human coronaviruses, but coronaviruses only make up about 15% of colds. While there's some reasonably reputable evidence that zinc > 75 mg/day may shorten the duration of common colds as a class, there's nothing which establishes that coronavirus infection is prevented or inhibited. There's also no evidence that severity is reduced. Given the risks, it's not worth experimenting on yourself. If you're sick, seek medical advice; if you're not sick, follow generally recommended precautions.

    Edit: clarity

    8 votes
  3. cfabbro
    (edited )
    Link
    While in this particular case the advice seems relatively sound (except maybe the Zinc lozenge thing?), please everyone be very very wary of anecdotal advice being passed around regarding the...

    While in this particular case the advice seems relatively sound (except maybe the Zinc lozenge thing?), please everyone be very very wary of anecdotal advice being passed around regarding the coronavirus right now!

    A friend of my family sent out a mass email full of "advice" supposedly from a "trusted friend who is a Doctor" to a huge list of people, and it had a bunch of bullshit in it (e.g. "Drinking warm water is effective for all viruses. Try not to drink liquids with ice."), some of which directly contradicted information posted by other far more credible/trustworthy sources like the WHO and CDC. Thankfully this was pointed out almost immediately by several people (including myself) and eventually the originator apologized for it, but unfortunately that's how a lot of misinformation is being spread right now.


    EDIT: Found something related to this blog's advice about zinc losenges:

    Now fast forward to the 2020 coronavirus crisis. A blog post circulating on the Internet, attributed to Dr. James Robb, a pathologist who carried out some of the early work on coronaviruses back in the 1970s, claims that zinc lozenges are the “silver bullet against the coronavirus.” This is not at all what Dr. Robb said in a letter that he sent privately to friends but somehow found its way into the hands of some blogger who twisted the information until it dripped nonsense all over the blogosphere.

    Dr. Robb referred to research that had demonstrated an inhibition of the replication of many viruses, including coronaviruses, by exposure to zinc. He indicated that this could also be the case for the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, but pointed out that he has no experimental support for the claim. Nevertheless, he did suggest sucking on zinc lozenges several times a day if “cold-like” symptoms present. He specifically advised that this should be while lying down to give the zinc the best chance of contracting the virus.

    Current evidence indicates that up to 150 mg of zinc a day over a short period does not result in zinc toxicity. While zinc lozenges are certainly no “silver bullet” the possibility that they may be of some benefit in coronavirus infection cannot be ruled out. Keep in mind, though, that there are no supporting studies.

    https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/health/can-zinc-lozenges-help-coronavirus-infections


    EDIT2: Also found an interesting post from a UK-based fact checking charity about the advice that I got emailed:

    We’ve been asked to check a Facebook post that has been shared hundreds of thousands of times, which made a number of claims about the symptoms of Covid-19 and ways to prevent the disease.

    The claims were previously a mixture of accurate and inaccurate. While the post did include some basic advice that is worth following, it also contained some claims which could have falsely led people to believe they don’t have Covid-19 when they do, or which suggested ways of preventing infection that will not work.

    During the writing of this fact check, the post was edited by the author to alter some of the more inaccurate claims, and after we first published this article, the person who posted it removed the inaccurate claims. However, as the post had already been shared over 300,000 before these edits occurred, we’re going to focus on the original version of the text as it will have been so widely seen.

    https://fullfact.org/online/coronavirus-claims-symptoms-viral/

    7 votes
  4. Algernon_Asimov
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    I have read elsewhere that people wearing masks end up touching their face more than people without masks - because they're continually adjusting the mask when it moves, or because it's...
    1. Stock up now with disposable surgical masks and use them to prevent you from touching your nose and/or mouth

    I have read elsewhere that people wearing masks end up touching their face more than people without masks - because they're continually adjusting the mask when it moves, or because it's uncomfortable.

    Humans have never seen this snake-associated virus before

    There's no proof yet that this virus came from snakes - or from bats or pangolins, the two other animals cited as the likely source.

    5 votes
  5. [11]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. [9]
      Kuromantis
      Link Parent
      Hey, I'm 14 and since you had sex you seem like a hero to me regardles/s Stuff like this is why having a sex doll to please yourself will probably be the romantic equivalent of buying a car to go...

      After reading this, I think I'm going to die.

      Hey, I'm 14 and since you had sex you seem like a hero to me regardles/s

      Stuff like this is why having a sex doll to please yourself will probably be the romantic equivalent of buying a car to go to work for too many people if conservatism doesn't get in the way.

      1 vote
      1. [8]
        patience_limited
        Link Parent
        I, and at least one other person here, discovered sex right when HIV hit the news, and it was a near-certain death sentence for years afterward. You would not believe how much fun I had anyway. I...

        I, and at least one other person here, discovered sex right when HIV hit the news, and it was a near-certain death sentence for years afterward.

        You would not believe how much fun I had anyway. I don't care if you have to engage through spacesuits or via telepresence robots, love (or at least lust) will find a way. You seem intelligent and mature enough that you'll undoubtedly find a mate given time - take heart and step out with confidence when circumstances (and responsible precautions) allow.

        4 votes
        1. [7]
          tlalexander
          Link Parent
          I had a really great first date via video call today for someone that lives in my area. I was disappointed at first that she didn’t want to meet in person today but the video date was super fun...

          I had a really great first date via video call today for someone that lives in my area. I was disappointed at first that she didn’t want to meet in person today but the video date was super fun and actually I’m starting to feel like isolation is a good thing for now. And I learned that she recently spent time with a friend who is now sick so it was seemingly mostly for my benefit.

          2 votes
          1. [6]
            patience_limited
            Link Parent
            That's awesome! I had an unspoken rule for dating - no sex until I'd had a minimum of four uninterrupted hours of interesting, mutually satisfying conversation with the other person. That saved me...

            That's awesome! I had an unspoken rule for dating - no sex until I'd had a minimum of four uninterrupted hours of interesting, mutually satisfying conversation with the other person. That saved me from some significant mistakes, and I'm still friends with most of the people involved.

            Video seems like a great way to ensure that you get messy issues of attraction, compatibility, and consent dealt with before contact. I hope you arrive at a meeting of minds (and other parts) eventually.

            6 votes
            1. [5]
              mrbig
              Link Parent
              Well, dating experts say that it takes 5 to 6 hours for a woman to feel comfortable enough to have sex with a partner. This can happen on a single date or be spread in numerous encounters. Most of...

              Well, dating experts say that it takes 5 to 6 hours for a woman to feel comfortable enough to have sex with a partner. This can happen on a single date or be spread in numerous encounters.

              Most of those dating experts are pigs, I do not go on dates with a chronometer, and having sex is not even my main goal.

              BUT, in my personal non-scientific observation, they're right on the money.

              So I think your rule makes perfect sense. As a man, I am expected to want sex at all times, but I too prefer to get to know the woman quite a bit before it happens. I've actually been in situations in which I wish I could tell women to slow down, but the chance of this going very very bad is usually 99.99999%

              1 vote
              1. [2]
                patience_limited
                Link Parent
                We are getting way, way, off-topic here; time to move this side-chain to ~life if we want to continue it. Benefits of video dating in a time of coronavirus?

                We are getting way, way, off-topic here; time to move this side-chain to ~life if we want to continue it. Benefits of video dating in a time of coronavirus?

                3 votes
              2. [2]
                cfabbro
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                That term makes my skepticism meter spike. And it certainly doesn't help that most of the self-professed dating experts I have seen on TV seem to be slimy looking douchebags with no scientific...

                dating experts

                That term makes my skepticism meter spike. And it certainly doesn't help that most of the self-professed dating experts I have seen on TV seem to be slimy looking douchebags with no scientific background whatsoever, so I would take their advice with a few bags of salt.

                3 votes
                1. mrbig
                  Link Parent
                  You should be skeptical. But also maybe not dismiss them altogether either.

                  You should be skeptical. But also maybe not dismiss them altogether either.