Dr. Alaei, resident of New York, is well known in the Tajik medical community. He has been collaborating with the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of the Population of Tajikistan for several years.
Today, Tajik doctors are at the forefront of the fight against coronavirus, and familiarization with the experience of doctors from other countries should prove useful.
The full version of interview is below:
Abdusattor: In your opinion, what kind of a virus is COVID-19?
Alaei: The causative agent of COVID-19 is the coronavirus and it has been known to humanity for millennia. That is, the main factor of coronavirus disease is not unknown. The difficulty lies in the fact that this type of virus is of animal origin, which mutated and made a genetic leap, spawning a new disease. In 2002, this virus called SARS in the human body acquired a new look once it was transmitted to humans from some animals. Then in 2012 in the Mediterranean Sea, in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, it appeared under the name MERS and is currently the third type of disease is called COVID-19.
We are well aware of the features of this disease. In order to spread, viruses need a living organism and a living cell. COVID-19 enter the lungs through the nose and mouth. The body’s defense mechanism moves and begins to fight the virus. The fight between the virus and human immunity creates chemical difficulties in the lungs, which in some cases ends in death.
According to studies, 85 percent of COVID-19 infected people recover without treatment, sometimes the coronavirus passes asymptomatically. The remaining 15 percent can be divided into two groups. In 10 percent, symptoms can be severe, and 5 percent require serious medical help. From 1 to 3 percent, and in some cases up to 5 percent, lose their lives.
Can Tajikistan’s climate reduce the threat of its consequences?
Whether or how it can influence the virus remains uncertain. Upon exiting the body through the mouth, the virus can live no more than 1-3 hours. But if it clings to a hand, for example, then the virus can live for several days. For this reason, disinfection and personal hygiene is very important.
In New York, over 170,000 people fell ill as a result of non-compliance with personal hygiene. We know that the virus comes out of the mouth, and therefore we must use masks.
How important is compliance with sanitary rules and self-isolation?
This is very important. The whole world must abide by these rules. We are dealing with a disease from which no people, no country, has immunity. For this reason, the entire population of the planet must come together and follow the rules of hygiene in order to take control of this disease.
Can those that test positive for the virus, but exhibit no symptoms, infect others?
People infected with a small amount of the virus have few symptoms, but they remain a source of infection for others. Doctors believed that if a person has a fever or coughs, he must be infected with the coronavirus. Therefore, they were quarantined the person. Then, as the disease continued to spread, it was determined that 30 to 50 percent of people who are infected, exhibit no symptoms.
Regardless of whether there are symptoms or not, everyone must follow the rules of hygiene. First, wear medical masks. Second, wash your hands more often and wear gloves whenever possible. Third, in places where many people gather, keep 2 meters between yourself and others. The main reason for the spread of this disease in New York was the subway and buses, where people remain close to each other.
Those who exhibit symptoms should not go outside. They should be alone in a separate room. Not all coronavirus-infected people should go to the hospital. Those who cough, have a fever, have difficulty breathing should be in a separate room and not come close to anyone. They must lock their door and be sure to open the windows. Family members bringing food should leave it behind the doors, and wear masks and wash their hands often. If the fever reaches above 39 degrees and your breathing quickens, then you need to see a doctor. Otherwise there is no need for testing and antibiotics. You should drink warm water, observe hygiene and after two weeks you will have fully recovered.
World experience shows that panic and fear complicate the situation. How can we prevent the panic?
This disease can be fatal in up to 3% of cases. It is very important not to give in to fear and be prudent. If we panic, mistakes are inevitable. You must trust your healers. Check out the recommendations that the Ministry of Health posts on its website. Difficulties are eliminated through knowledge. What do we need to know? As I said, if you have symptoms, stay home. Even if the cough and temperature go away, stay home for two weeks.
The Ministry of Health cannot stand alone against this deadly disease. It is necessary to establish close cooperation between people and state agencies. If people themselves do not follow the rules of hygiene and panic, doctors are unlikely to be able to help with anything and the likelihood of spreading the virus increases.
You correctly noted that this is a collective endeavor. How long do you think the search for a cure or vaccine for this disease will take?
A reliable vaccine against COVID-19 has not yet been invented. The drug Remdesivir, which many consider a panacea for the virus, is also ineffective. Previously, this drug was used in the treatment of Ebola. But it can only reduce stress and the duration of the disease.
Therefore, there is no need to purchase this expensive medication. In 90% of cases this disease goes away without any treatment. The remaining 10% who turn to doctors need modern services to strengthen their immunity. There is still no reliable vaccine, and doctors prescribe other medications out of severe exacerbation. COVID-19 does not necessarily require treatment.
How long is the period of communicability of this disease?
After the first onset of symptoms appear and disappear, they may reappear yet again after several days, at which point a person cannot infect others, though he may still cough for some time afterwards. He may continue to experience a loss of sense of smell or taste, but this should not be a cause for concern, because they will gradually be recovered.
Is reinfection possible?
At present, we do not have data that can confirm this.