Health Tips | Life

Coronavirus And The Sun: A Lesson From The 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Coronavirus forced the lockdown of many countries across the globe. The coronavirus has killed over 14 thousand people, and over 333,000 people tested positive for COVID-19. The situation is more than serious, and getting read of the virus is a priority now.

President Donald Trump promised his citizens that the virus will “go away in April.” He can’t wait for temperatures to go up.

However, some experts believe that this claim may not be true. They suspect that we can’t be sure that COVID-19 will stop infecting people in the next few months.

But, there have been instances where heat has destroyed viruses.

Dr. Richard Hobday is an independent researcher in the field of infection control, public health and building design. He is convinced that the sun can be of great help in our cases. He cited the greatest pandemic in history. The Spanish flu.

According to Hobday, viruses are less active in summer. Sunlight, fresh water and face masks can help us prevent the spreading of the virus. That’s exactly what happened a century ago.

The Spanish flu affected a lot of people in the world. Entire countries were shut down, and people lived in quarantine.

Public gatherings were banned, and patients were encouraged to receive treatment outdoors. They recovered much better than those who received treated inside hospitals.

Fresh air and sunlight helped the spreading of the virus among the medical staff. Outdoor air is the best natural disinfectant. It kills viruses and germs. Sunlight is also germicidal and it destroys the flu virus.

Military barracks and troop-ships were the worst places in the past. Soldiers and sailors had a higher risk of getting the virus and other infections. The Spanish flu spread as a result of the repatriation of soldiers.

Most patients died from pneumonia and other complications. The same happens these days.

In a Boston hospital, the medical officer noticed that patients who had been living in badly-ventilated spaces had the worst symptoms. He put them in tents outside, and patients enjoyed the sun when the weather was warm.

Open-air therapy was quite a thing back then. It was used on casualties from the Western Front, and it helped patients diagnosed with tuberculosis.

It became less popular in the 1950 following the introduction of antibiotics. According to historical data, the therapy lowered death rates from 40% to 14% in the Boston hospital.

Hobday explains that patients are safe from germs outdoors. Hospital wards are full of viruses. Clean air provided the best sterile environment.

In the 1960s, the Ministry of Defense confirmed that fresh air acts as a natural disinfectant. The Open Air Factor has shown to kill airborne bacteria and flu. Proper ventilation can provide similar effect.

“Putting infected patients out in the sun may have helped because it inactivates the influenza virus. It also kills bacteria that cause lung and other infections in hospitals.

During the First World War, military surgeons routinely used sunlight to heal infected wounds.They knew it was a disinfectant. What they didn’t know is that one advantage of placing patients outside in the sun is they can synthesize vitamin D in their skin if sunlight is strong enough.

This was not discovered until the 1920s. Low vitamin D levels are now linked to respiratory infections and may increase susceptibility to influenza. Also, our body’s biological rhythms appear to influence how we resist infections.

New research suggests they can alter our inflammatory response to the flu virus. As with vitamin D, at the time of the 1918 pandemic, the important part played by sunlight in synchronizing these rhythms was not known.”

Surgical masks were used a century ago. However, they don’t cover the entire face and don’t filter out small particles.

Employees in the Boston hospital made their own masks. All they needed was five layers f cause fitted around the face, preventing the filter to touch the lips or the nostrils. These improvised face masks were replaced every two hours.

“Today, many countries are not prepared for a severe influenza pandemic,” Hobday adds. “Their health services will be overwhelmed if there is one. Vaccines and antiviral drugs might help.

Antibiotics may be effective for pneumonia and other complications. But much of the world’s population will not have access to them.

If another 1918 comes, or the Covid-19 crisis gets worse, history suggests it might be prudent to have tents and pre-fabricated wards ready to deal with large numbers of seriously ill cases. Plenty of fresh air and a little sunlight might help too.”