Why OTHER Respiratory Viruses are More Important than Ever Before

This may change, but as of this writing, more than 90 percent of people tested in San Francisco for COVID turned out to have other respiratory infections -- not COVID. That's a huge percentage. Here's why that's so important and what you can do about it.

Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Dr. Alan Greene and I want to talk with you for a moment about why other respiratory viruses are more important during the time of COVID than ever before — at least in our lifetimes.



In San Francisco, one of the first areas where COVID was emerging in the United States, even though many people were tested for COVID, with COVID symptoms – fever, cough, shortness of breath, other respiratory symptoms — of the people tested at UCSF more than 90 percent of them turned out to have other respiratory infections — not COVID.


Think [about] what that means for those people. They experience the fear, the anxiety, the isolation, the inconvenience, the risk of exposure of going to get tested when, if they hadn’t been sick they wouldn’t have had to [be tested].


But it’s not just what it means for those people. Think of what it means for the healthcare system where so much of the time that we spend trying to get testing available and get the available tests to the right people could be more efficient if there weren’t as many viral infections around.


And what about those who actually do have COVID? Our early experience at Stanford with those who did test positive for COVID is more than 22% had another respiratory infection at the same time making matters worse.


This is the ideal time to take steps to prevent other respiratory infections. Now the good news is that some of the most effective things you can do are things that you’re already doing — wearing a mask, physical isolation, washing your hands frequently — all of those bring down, not just COVID but other respiratory infections.


There are also some simple supplements that have been studied well for respiratory infections things including, vitamin D, colostrum, and zinc. This is a [great] time to think about those, as well.

Published on: April 10, 2020
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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