How’s this for a storyline: A vampire-like contagion infects a few people, who unknowingly spread it throughout the world, sucking the life out of tens of thousands, creating an apocalyptic crises.
Yes, this is a reality for all of us right now. And it seems almost as scary as some of the scenarios I’ve written about. Almost.
Long before the Wuhan Coronavirus became a pandemic, I was digging into the meaty details about this virus. Because as a science nerd, that’s what I do. Did you know that this virus has quite a few similarities to the fictional vampires we read about or watch in movies? And yet, as scary as this may sound, it’s actually very positive for you and me. Like vampires in fictional stories, we know what destroys COVID-19. And it can be destroyed easily.
Here are a few important scientific factoids about COVID-19 (and some fascinating parallels to vampire mythology) and why it’s far easier to ‘kill’ this thing than you’d probably thought.
How to slay the COVID-19 vampire
- It’s not alive – Just like fictional vampires, COVID-19 isn’t alive. In fact, it’s not even a living organism. It’s a virus, which is actually a protein molecule covered by a protective layer of fat (lipid), which when absorbed by the cells of your ocular (eyes), nasal or buccal mucosa (the lining of your cheeks and back of your lips, inside the mouth where they touch your teeth), changes their genetic code (mutation) and converts them into aggressor and multiplier cells. This is how it bites into us and spreads.
- It doesn’t die – Since the virus is not a living organism but a protein molecule, it is not killed, but decays on its own. That’s right, like a vampire, if this thing doesn’t find a host (us) so it can replicate, it disintegrates over time depending on the temperature, humidity and type of material where it lies.
- The Corona ‘vampire’ is very fragile – The only thing that protects it is a thin outer layer of fat. That is why any soap or detergent is the best remedy, because the foam CUTS the FAT (that is why you have to rub so much – 20 seconds or more, to make a lot of foam). By dissolving the fat layer, the protein molecule disperses and breaks down on its own.
- HEAT = Stake to its heart – Heat melts fat. This is why it is so good to use water above 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) for washing hands, clothes, etc. In addition, hot water makes more foam and that makes it even more useful.
- 65% is the magic number – Okay, this may not be part of the vampire orthodoxy, but with the corona virus, alcohol or any mixture with alcohol over 65% DISSOLVES ANY FAT, especially the external lipid layer of the virus.
- Bleach = Holy water – Make a mixture with 1 part bleach and 5 parts water and this corona vampire doesn’t stand a chance. This mixture directly dissolves the protein, by breaking it down from the inside.
- Antibiotics don’t help (mostly) – Maybe that’s why you never see a sick vampire? Again, the virus is not a living organism like bacteria, so they cannot be ‘killed’ with an antibiotic.
- Stop dusting/shaking – Let’s face it, vampires live in dusty castles. In your own home, NEVER shake used or unused clothing, sheets or cloth materials. While the virus is glued to a porous surface, it is very inert and disintegrates on its own. But if you shake it or use a feather duster, the virus molecules float in the air for up to 3 hours, and can lodge in your nose.
- Time kills – Vampires who don’t get blood, perish. Likewise, viruses on their own (without us spreading them) disintegrate on their own, depending on where they lie: 3 hours (clothes or other porous materials); 4 hours (copper – it’s naturally antiseptic; and wood – it removes moisture); 24 hours (cardboard); 42 hours (metal); and 72 hours (plastic).
- It likes it cold – Now we know why Vlad chose cold Transylvania as his home. Virus molecules remain very stable in external cold or artificial air (i.e. home/car air conditioned air). They also need moisture to stay stable, and especially darkness. Therefore, dehumidified, dry, warm and bright environments will degrade it faster.
- It hates sunshine – Like vampires, viruses hate sunshine. Protein is destroyed by UV LIGHT. So when you place an object (or Vlad) in sunshine, it will naturally disinfect (AKA: Destroy) it in a short amount of time.
- Skin blocks it – Corona virus has no fangs and therefore CANNOT go through healthy skin.
- Vinegar (or garlic) does not work – Dispelling some misinformation. Unfortunately, vinegar is NOT a useful agent against a virus, because it does not break down the protective layer of fat.
- I’ll drink to that – Contrary to what some are saying, alcoholic drinks such as beer, wine, or even more potent spirits such as vodka don’t destroy a vampire or the corona virus. The most potent vodka has as much as 40% alcohol, and you need 65% alcohol to work.
- It likes small spaces – You’ll find the virus more concentrated in confined spaces (not just a coffin). Where as the virus will be less concentrated in more open or naturally ventilated spaces. So outside is good!
- Don’t invite it inside – To make sure the COVID-19 vampire hasn’t followed you inside, wash-wash-wash! Wash your hands before and after touching your face, food, locks, knobs, switches, remote control, cell phone, watches, computers, desks, TV, etc. Yep, pretty much everything.
- HUMIDIFY HANDS – After so much washing, using moisturizers is important, because viruses can hide in the micro cracks of your skin. The thicker the moisturizer, the better.
- Short nails – Don’t be like Dracula. Keep your nails short so that the virus does not hide there.
Like fictional vampires, the corona virus needs us (hosts) to replicate it. Without us acting as hosts, the virus will disintegrate on its own. This is why medical experts stress the importance of distancing each of us from one another. Literally, if we no longer interacted with one another for one month there would be no more corona virus. It would just be a story.
Let’s hope this virus becomes more alive in fiction than our real world soon enough.
Until then, do your part by not spreading it to others, enjoying the warming temperatures and life-giving sunshine, and washing this thing away into extinction.