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COVID-19 Explanations: Why Ventilators Can Be Deadly in Treating the Coronavirus

by Noach Nestor Bittelman, LAc

Let’s start this brief explanatory paper with a couple of basic medical facts which are always true, but which are particularly relevant and applicable to COVID-19:

  1. Proper and effective COVID-19 treatments must be based on a correct understanding of the illness, the mechanisms at play, and the typical course this Coronavirus takes.

  2. Treatments based on a faulty or incomplete understanding of the illness can cause serious harm to the patient, and may even be deadly.

Now to the ventilator issue. The use of ventilators with COVID-19 patients is proving in many cases to be a tool of death. Regardless of the media and governmental frenzy about having enough ventilators on hand for COVID-19 patient needs, information is now starting to come out of medical centers in the West that ventilators may be doing more harm than good.

An April 9, 2020 Associated Press report dramatically illustrates this fact:

“Generally speaking, 40 - 50% of patients with severe respiratory distress die while on ventilators, experts say. But 80% or more of coronavirus patients placed on the machines in New York City have died, state and city officials say. Higher-than-normal death rates also have been reported elsewhere in the US, said Dr. Albert Rizzo, the American Lung Association’s chief medical officer. Similar reports have emerged from China and the United Kingdom. One UK report put the figure at 66%. A very small study in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the disease first emerged, said 86% died.” (emphasis mine)

The AP report goes on to discuss a hypothesis or two about why this terrible consequence may be happening, but it is clear from the discussion that no one understands the mechanism at play.

Fortunately, Chinese Medicine is able to provide a clear, concise, evidence-based understanding of why the use of ventilators with COVID-19 patients can lead to such an increased death rate.

The typical progression of the disease involves a few major factors. We can call them fever, cough, fluid, and respiratory distress. The current Coronavirus first brings about cold or flu symptoms in the infected person—body aches, maybe a slight fever, alternating fever and chills, a cough. If the illness is not arrested at this stage, the virus goes on to rapidly debilitate the immune system; at the same time there is often a significant buildup of fluid and phlegm in the lungs.