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Coronavirus perspective

Coronavirus may have already moved through our populations in far greater numbers than previously thought and estimated mortality rates are likely wrong by orders of magnitude.

My own view is the virus differs from other other corona type virus' by only a few hundred amino acid pairs. Structurally the virus is the same as the other corona virus'. As such, human ability to create a successful antigen immune response (human immune system gets triggered) is likely no different than human response to other flu's. In other words, coronavirus is a new strain of flu for which humans had no prior immunity and is now acquiring herd immunity. I expect the mortality rate to be no different than SARS, MERS, H1N1 and Influenza A/B have been. And it is beginning to look like that is the case as testing increases and mortality rates are continually adjusted downward. In those previous pandemics, we did not shut down whole economies.

As a society we are ripping ourselves apart economically and scaring the heck out of ourselves needlessly. Yes - older and more at risk people - need to be protected - but that has been true for flu season as well - no different. By focusing on your own actions (wash hands, avoid people who are sneezing/coughing) as well as nutrition specific to your immune system, you will very likely avoid even getting a symptom let alone becoming bed ridden or hospitalized on a ventilator. It will be interesting to learn if as many sick people show up at the hospitals as they expect in the coming weeks. I have a hunch this will not be the case.


Hi Scuba,

I am interested in your analysis.

Historically what is interesting is the 1918-19 flu pandemic the so called Spanish flu which is reputed to have originated in wild water fowl in Kansas and killed upwards of 50 million persons as it spread to Europe and around the world.The BBC here in UK a few years ago produced a programme entitled The Flu that Killed 50 million and it is still available on i player but I guess only in the UK.Yes viruses were little known at the time and only palliative outdoor treatment of fresh air and hot drinks was able to be offered-but was really strange was the way it targeted really fit and healthy young men with assumed strong immune systems.One medic involved in the programme described it as if the virus through its new mutations became supercharged so beware as in the current situation the corona virus if it changes and mutates in a specific manner could target those of younger age with stronger immune systems and no underlying health conditions.Apparently a virus does not want to completely kill off all its host otherwise  it will die a death as well;the 1918 one apparently over time became milder as it stayed alive  and was still able to infect its hosts but not in such a severe form.Tests on the lungs of exhumed bodies from that period have not really answered the issue of how it mutated to target the very healthy

Another programme again on i player made in December 2018 modelled the UK with a virus unleashed in Haslemere in Southern England and then spread to infect 43 million persons (UK total population 65 million) with 800,000 deaths ;the use of extensive handwashing reduced the total to 30 million.It is titled Contagion:The BBC4 pandemic

In 2014 government in UK produced a report on how to deal with a future pandemic then it was forgotten or placed in the filing cabinet.I am reading Pale Rider -the Spanish flu of 1918 and how it changed the world by Laura Spinney which is rivetting reading.

Finally I have been scouring the medical literature to explore the issue of imatinib and effects on the immune system.Imatinib at sub clinical levels given as co -treatment for some non CML conditions appears to activate the immune system to be stronger against future attack by bacteria and viruses.However there are other studies that indicate imatinib at high dose and over a long period of time might/will? deplete the immune system.In the absence of definitive studies then our haema- oncologists are going to say it is not proven that tkis will suppress the immune system.

I am now in my mid seventies and have survived CML  using imatinib for 14 years;last year I was treated with iodine 125 implants into the prostate for early stage cancer and am still receiving a little bit of radiation so I am not sure what that is doing to my immune system. I discontinued imatinib for 14 weeks because we could not ascertain the level of interaction of imatinib /targeted radiation but we lost our molecular remission and am now trying to get it back. I live on my own but can now catch up with the gardening walking and decorating .Two days ago I gave bloods went to the dentist and found someone to cut my hair short because for me this is Day 2 of a 3 month personal lockdown with no shopping allowed, no one allowed in the house, or close contact nearer than 2 metres even out of doors with visiting family members -as I want to survive.

However I do remember experiencing the rationing of food and the poverty of the late 1940s and early 50 s and the Cold War and the real threat of the possibility of nuclear war in the 1960 s so I hope to be able to cope well.

Please keep safe.


Scuba, you might be right in calling this something like a flu, but the effects are quite distinct.

In Bergamo, where the virus could spread undisturbed, because the local companies did not want to close, 5 times as much people are dying everyday than usual. The army was called to transport coffins to nearby cities, the local newspaper has 12 pages of death announces, as opposed to the usual 2. Yesterday I read an article where a funeral home owner was saying they cannot cope with the number of dead people they are getting. Please note that the number of intensive care beds in Bergamo is quite high, it is a place where people go to to get treatment, we're not talking about second-rate hospital quality. I have former colleagues in Bergamo, I was talking to one of them, and he was telling me that he knows a lot of people who died because of Covid-19, and it's like this for most people in Bergamo.

I have friend who works at the Mantua hospital, he has been spending this few weeks sleeping in his own room, his wife taking food to his room door, never getting in contact with his children, in case he is infected. I mean, here it is properly crazy, and if don't believe it is, well, I don't know what to say.

Sure, it's mostly old people, with previous pathologies, but this is a CML forum, we all have previous (better, current!) pathologies, and although I am not older than 65 I believe some empathy is called for. (I am not implying you're not empathetic, of course,  I am just arguing with the common narrative that describes old and sick people as expendable)

I mean, you can call this a flu, and be correct scientifically speaking, but no flu was ever able to collapse the sanitary response system of Northern Italy, and this is what is right happening now.  

My suggestion to people around the globe: take care, this is not a flu.




I am very sad for anyone that has a compromised immune system and then is exposed to this virus.

More to your point:

In Bergamo, the median age of those who died is 80. Elderly people in our societies must be isolated from the general public until herd immunity develops (either by vaccine or exposure). It is precisely because most infected have mild cases, that transmission has been so rampant.

As I said, there might be a point calling this a flu, scientifically speaking.

What I can't agree with is:

As a society we are ripping ourselves apart economically and scaring the heck out of ourselves needlessly.

The last adverb. Hospital are collapsing in Northern Italy, and elsewhere in the world, and lots of people are dying which might be cured if IC were not saturated. Places where extreme lockdown were put in place more readily (Korea, areas of China other than Hubei) had less deaths and less critical patients. Lockdown is not needless, it is the best way to save some lives now.

In Italy 65% of critical patients are older than 65; that means 35% are younger, 1 in 3. There's plenty of people in their 50s, 40s, even 30s catching coronavirus and being admitted to IC, among them healthy people; yesterday the news came out of an olympic athlete being intubated. Most of them will recover, but what about those who don't? And also, being intubated is not fun, and here I speak out of experience. 

BTW, Italy's curves seems to be flattening, two weeks after the start of the total lockdown, exactly as epidemiologist had predicted.





To: Davewell

I want to offer an apology. Sometimes my confidence gets ahead of me.

Covid-19, as it turns out, is one nasty bug. It is a flu, scientifically speaking, but that doesn't much matter when so many people are dying who would otherwise have lived. My mother is alive at 97 and of 100% Italian decent (Sienna and (if you can imagine : Palermo)). We grew up speaking Italian in the home, but I have long ago forgotten that I would speak to her in that language. I love Italy and have traveled several times. My mother is alive because of isolation (as hard as that is on the mind).

People are dying - older people of course, because of love from their children. Our Italian families always hugged, kissed and played with their parents and children. And it is killing them now because of what I foolishly called - a flu. I am sure there are additional reasons - large Wuhan visiting population to Lombardo and elsewhere - but many of these deaths could have been prevented - if for no other reason than to give a child one more day with Grandma or grandpa.

I am sorry.