Singapore – The second part of Ask Paul Anything: Covid-19 edition was released recently, answering more questions regarding the virus and the various treatment options. Dr Tambyah revealed HIV drugs have proven to be an effective solution and that the virus is set to disappear in May.
Dr Paul Tambyah, chairman of the Singapore Democratic Party and an expert on infectious diseases, answered some more questions people had on the Covid-19 outbreak.
Is the virus airborne? Or will it become airborne? – Dimitry Minnelli
Now I really don’t think that the virus is airborne and the reason is that if the virus is airborne, there would be far more people infected, said Dr Tambyah. He used the family who came to Singapore from Wuhan and travelled to Malaysia via bus as an example. If the virus was truly airborne, “you’d expect the whole bus to be infected,” he said.
Regarding the possibility for the virus becoming airborne, Dr Tambyah answered, “Maybe. And we know this from SARS. Even though most of the time SARS had spread by droplet transmission, in certain situations like when they’re doing certain medical procedures such as giving nebulizers or doing incubations, the virus can become airborne. But that’s only for a short period and a short distance.”
How is this virus treated if the individual is infected? – Sivamoorthy Don Nangapan
Dr Tambyah replied, “For most viral infections, we depend on our own immune system to fight the virus.” He added that there is a lot of ongoing research on virus treatment.
He revealed an interesting fact where some of the first drugs used for HIV have proven effective. One drug, used for more than 10 years on HIV treatment, called Lopinavir/ritonavir, has been used by numerous Covid-19 patients, including some in Singapore, he said.
I’ve read news articles that say in China currently, they’re using the blood plasma from recovered patients and injecting it into the infected patients with extremely good results. What do you think of this? Is Singapore using this sort of treatment too? – Yon Tan
So far, the procedure hasn’t been used in Singapore. “But this is a very old treatment, used almost a hundred years ago before we had antibiotics or antivirals,” said Dr Tambyah.
The procedure was considered during MERS and even SARS, and Dr Tambyah shared his encounter with a doctor friend who wanted to donate his plasma after recovering from SARS. “As soon as this virus (SARS) appeared in Singapore, he called me up and said, ‘Hey, I’m willing to donate some of my plasma because maybe my plasma can help cure somebody,’” Dr Tambyah recalled. So far, there has been no need to use this procedure, although it is an amazing thing to do, he said.
If I walk past an infected person and let’s say I hold my breath while walking past him, will I still get the virus? – Yon Tan
“Frankly, the chances of getting the virus just walking past somebody are really slim,” said Dr Tambyah. “We have no evidence that somebody has picked up the virus that way. So, don’t hold your breath, I don’t think that’s worth it.”
Do we really need to wear a mask? Our PAP govt said no need to wear a mask unless you are sick. The problem is we don’t know how many people out there carry the virus. – Gibbon So
“I think if you are going to be in a position where you are at risk, like, for example, if you are working at a hospital, then you probably should wear a mask,” Dr Tambyah replied. However, in general, the public doesn’t really need to wear a mask, he said.
Since masks are out of stock in Singapore, can we buy cloth masks to protect ourselves? Better than nothing to protect us. – Cathlyn Tan
“Again, the reality is we probably don’t need to wear a mask if you are healthy or at at-risk situations,” Dr Tambyah said. Cloth masks do serve one function – it prevents you from unnecessarily touching your face, said the professor. He added how there’s no harm being done if someone chooses to wear a mask. “Personally, I don’t like wearing a mask. I find it very hard to breathe,” said Dr Tambyah, who also couldn’t understand what the nurse wearing a mask was saying when he accompanied someone to a clinic.
Will Covid-19 last another six months?
“That, of course, is the 64-million-dollar question,” said Dr Tambyah. While nobody knows when the virus will go away, “let me tell you that I believe that when the warm weather hits, I think the virus is going to disappear.”
He provided a couple of reasons as an explanation. First, the severity of SARS kept increasing until it suddenly dropped and disappeared sometime in May 2003 when the warm weather reached China, said the professor. Second, the virus is a respiratory infection, and much like the flu, thrives in winter seasons or cold weather. “I do clinical research on patients with the flu, and every time a company will come to me, they’ll say, ‘you have to get the study started by September or October; otherwise, it will miss the season.’”
“For these two reasons, I’m optimistic that we will have a quiet June, the virus will disappear by the end of May,” said Dr Tambyah. “I hope I’m right.”
Watch the full episode below:
Hi everyone. Here is the Chairman of SDP, Prof Paul Tambyah, to answer your pressing questions and all you need to know about COVID-19 in Part 2 of APA (Ask Paul Anything) : COVID-19 Edition.
Posted by Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) on Sunday, March 1, 2020
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