Answering Your Coronavirus Questions

Today, we're doing things a little differently.

Longtime readers know Fridays are Q&A days. My team and I sit down and answer some of the questions we've received recently. But over the past week, we've read more than 100 coronavirus questions from you.

We wish we could answer every single person's question. But you'd be here for the next few days just reading it! So we picked a handful that we hope will answer most of your questions.

And please keep sending your questions, comments, and suggestions our way – [email protected].

Now let's dig into this week's special Q&A...

Q: Thank you so much for your "Doc Eifrig's Coronavirus Care Kit" article. It was very timely and spot on. I forwarded to family and friends. I especially liked the Cleveland Clinic diagram.

I did have a couple of question about coronavirus.

1. Is it possible to catch it multiple times? Does one's body build up some kind of immunity to it after the first time, or is it equally bad in subsequent times?

2. If so many people die of pneumonia from it, then why can't I get a pneumonia shot to lessen the effects of pneumonia?

I tried to do this, and they only allow people 65+ with lung/breathing problems to get the shot. Is the pneumonia from coronavirus a different kind, so the shot wouldn't help the coronavirus pneumonia? – J.K.

A: Hi J.K., thanks for sending this in. These are both great questions we've seen from several of our subscribers.

Regarding the reinfection rate... the short answer is that we just don't know yet. Since COVID-19 is a brand-new virus, we aren't sure if you can get reinfected. A few news outlets in China report roughly 14% of folks that were infected get infected a second time... but there's simply no solid science behind that yet. The problem is that we don't know if the virus may go dormant in the body and then reappear. There's also a concern because so many test kits were faulty. Imagine if someone tested negative while being infected, meaning they recovered, then tested positive later. What if one of those tests had been wrong?

We've seen lots of folks asking about the pneumonia vaccine.

Pneumonia happens when your lungs get infected. They fill with fluid and that makes it very hard to breathe. Here's the problem: Pneumonia has a lot of causes. Bacteria, viruses, even fungi can lead to infection. Even dust storms like we saw during the Great Depression led to pneumonia.

There are two types of pneumonia vaccines, but these only protect against common bacteria strains that cause pneumonia. They do not protect against the COVID-19 virus.

Q: Surprised that you didn't somehow mention Vitamin C, D, and Sunlight (also Zinc if you are on high blood pressure meds). Do you disagree or just didn't mention? – H.K.

A: I want to be clear – you can't completely prevent the coronavirus. What we can do is take some common-sense approaches to keep us as safe as possible. That includes social distancing and frequent handwashing. Plenty of sleep keeps your immune system strong, as does eating well. Load up on antioxidants in fruits and veggies.

Vitamin C and vitamin D from sunlight are important for our body's health. They both work to strengthen our immune system, among other things. You certainly want your immune system to be in top form should you come into contact with the virus. Longtime readers know I go on a vitamin C and zinc blitz when I feel a cold coming on.

Getting out in the sun is good for you, especially during this social distancing period. As I wrote earlier this week, try and get moving and get some sun to help boost your serotonin.

Q: If the Coronavirus is so easily transmitted should we be worried about our paper money, coins and checks being infected.

I am 95 and live alone but have family members getting my groceries etc. When I pay for my needs am I doing them a disservice by paying with coins and bills that might be infected?

Truly worried! – H.S.

A: A study out this week (that is awaiting publication) found that the virus lives for 24 hours on cardboard and 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel. This came from a branch of the National Institutes of Health in Montana.

That doesn't really help for things like paper or clothes. Another study from The Journal of Hospital Infection compiled everything we know about how another coronavirus – SARS – behaves. The study found disparity in results when it come to surfaces like paper – one SARS strain only survived three hours but another was four days. So again, we just don't know.

We recommend using caution. Wear gloves when handling money and always wash your hands after handling any kind of currency. And we recommend that year-round – money can hold tons of germs given how often it's exchanged. It's a hotbed of germs, so just make it a good practice to always wash up after handling. Advise your family to do the same.

Q: So I have a good amount of food and stuff to stay pretty isolated for a few weeks, 8 might get difficult but we should be ok. I have a large bottle of Tylenol but no real cold medicine. I am a healthy active almost 54 year old my wife is 51 and a 10 year stage 3+ breast cancer survivor, we also have a 10 year old daughter. Should I have some sort of cough [medicine] or decongestant in the house? If so any recommendations?

Thank you for all you do, we will get through this together. – J.D.

A: The good news is that COVID-19 won't cause congestion. If you get a stuffy or runny nose, you have a cold or allergies, not the coronavirus.

That's actually a good reminder – allergy season is upon us. If you suffer from seasonal allergies and rely on medication, have some on hand. As for cough medicine, I'd suggest getting some if it will put your mind at ease. Personally, I make a cup of hot tea with honey (raw honey) and use that for any coughs or sore throats. Bigelow green tea is my favorite. If the cough is really annoying, then I'll take some medication like Dayquil.

Q: Can pets contract coronavirus from their owners... and vice versa? – L.S.

A: Great news – pets can't contract COVID-19. It did jump from an animal species to humans, but it can't live in other animals that we know of. So don't worry about Fido getting you sick – spend time with your pets. It'll help lower your stress and anxiety levels.

What We're Reading...

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
March 20, 2020