At PrescribeWellness, our mission remains to inspire collaboration for better health. A critical component of that mission is the education of patients served. To assist front line pharmacists in the engagement of their patients, we have compiled some of the most frequently asked questions and prevalent myths, surrounding the developing coronavirus pandemic.
Frequently Asked Questions
#1. What is COVID-19, where did it come from, and how is it spread?
Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus that causes COVID-19 is SARS-CoV-2, a novel coronavirus. First identified while investigating an outbreak in Wuhan, China, SARS-CoV-2 spreads similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread – from person to person – and is mainly transmitted via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes within distances of approximately 6 feet. These droplets can land in the mouths, noses or eyes of nearby people, and can even be inhaled into the lungs. Infection can also occur if a person touches an infected surface and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.
#2. Can COVID-19 be caught from a person showing no symptoms?
Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from asymptomatic individuals, or individuals within the incubation period, has occurred. As healthcare researchers continue to develop a better understanding of transmission, it is important to reinforce to patients the importance of practicing social distancing and stay-at-home orders.
#3. Are there any specific medicines to prevent or treat COVID-19?
To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat COVID-19. That said, some specific treatments are under investigation and will be tested through clinical trials. The World Health Organization (WHO) is helping to accelerate research and development efforts with a range of partners. Those infected with the virus should seek supportive medical care to relieve symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing in order to reduce the risk of developing life-threatening complications. Advise your patients to always check with a pharmacist or a physician regarding any potential treatment options. Additionally, address what signs and symptoms warrant immediate health intervention.
#4. Can people who recover from COVID-19 be infected again?
Per the CDC, the immune response to COVID-19 isn’t yet fully understood, and therefore it is unknown whether there will be immune protection for infected patients. However, with scientists working tirelessly to provide new diagnostics, an antibody test is now available, which helps detect patients that have developed IgM and IgG antibodies to the current strain of the virus.
#5. What personal protective equipment (PPE) is effective for COVID-19?
While wearing a medical mask is a viable prevention measure to limit the spread of certain respiratory diseases, including COVID-19, according to WHO, the use of a mask alone is insufficient to provide an adequate level of protection. Other protective measures should be adopted, including adequate hand hygiene and other infection control and prevention measures. In fact, regularly washing your hands offers more protection against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves, which can still result in contamination.
#1. COVID-19 only affects the elderly, or people with pre-existing conditions
People of all ages can be infected with SARS-CoV-2 and develop COVID-19. That said, according to the CDC, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease, appear to be more vulnerable to adverse effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
#2. Eating garlic can help prevent COVID-19
While garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that suggests eating it protects people from COVID-19.
#3. If you can hold your breath for 10 seconds, you don’t have COVID-19
The post, which was falsely credited to a member of the “Stanford Hospital board”, claims if you can hold your breath for ten seconds without coughing, then you do not have COVID-19. This is not only false, but it is also dangerously misleading as infected patients may incorrectly assume they are not infected.
#4. COVID-19 is just the flu
Though SARS-CoV-2 causes flu-like symptoms – aches, fever, and cough – the two should not be viewed as the same illness. While scientists are still working to identify the exact mortality rate of COVID-19, it is estimated to be somewhere between 1% and 3% – many times higher than that of seasonal flu.
#5. There’s nothing I can do to protect myself
Thankfully, there are many measures that can be taken to protect oneself, and others, from illness associated with COVID-19. From sheltering in place, to social distancing, to regularly and thoroughly washing your hands, many simple and effective precautionary measures can be practiced by patients immediately.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop, pharmacists and patients alike have the opportunity to encourage and promote patient health. As the community’s most accessible care provider, pharmacists are especially well-positioned to offer science-based facts to better inform those they serve.
We continue to thank our front line providers for administering clinical services to patients across the nation. PrescribeWellness remains at the ready to serve our community pharmacy partners in this critical time, offering important patient relationship management solutions, and tips for better health. For more information on how PrescribeWellness can support your community pharmacy practice during the developing coronavirus pandemic, including COVID-19 testing opportunities, contact us today through the form below.