Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

FAQ — everything you always wanted to know about the new coronavirus but were afraid to ask

Easy answers for the bewildered

Should we fear it or not fear it?

If you feel a need to panic, do panic but only for say five minutes or an hour. Feelings creep up not for nothing; don’t suppress them. But don’t make it your new default mode. Being calm is generally safer.

The best healing way to panic is to do it as a game. Scream at your loudest (or whisper ominously) and take your time laughing. Do so together with others — great fun! Make disrespectfully fun of your greatest fears. Take no prisoners. If sober, your fear will melt away.

People who play ostrich you might still be able to help laugh about it.

It’s no use to deny things that are hazardous. It’s good to see things within proportion (famine is worse) but it’s also good to believe and accept the existence of real dangers so that you can protect yourself.

Being in terror all the time is not helpful. First of all, those who fear too much might not be able to get the information to protect themselves and others. So, bear the discomfort of getting nervous when hearing the details and trying to understand them. After learning the fine points, you’ll be calmer because you know what to fear and what not.

Doctors work all the time with many unknowables. It might be ideal to know everything but truthfully, we don’t. (Already because no 2 people are the same and this case may be an exception to all other patients.) That’s still no excuse for panic. They focus on what they know and try to get more knowledge. That makes them curious rather than anxious.

Don’t believe everything on the internet and in the news.

Not only fear but also feeling of uncertainty and powerlessness are hard to live with. Devious salespeople will try to sell you all kinds of stuff that won’t help. Use your common sense to weed out the scams.

Try not only to survive and defend your life but also live and enjoy. Make a plan what special task you’re going to do if you’d get stuck at home so that later you can say: That’s what I accomplished during the epidemic.

Is this virus dangerous or isn’t it dangerous?

Yes and no. It is not so dangerous as 80% of those infected will hardly feel unwell and in total minimally 96.6% of those infected will heal without any complication.

However, with proper medical care, 05-3.4% might die from it. It seems 20 times more deadly than the seasonal flue. Especially in danger are the elderly (over 80) and those with preexisting heart and lung problems (including habitual smokers). They should more than others try to not get infected. At the rate it’s going, world-wide, 150 million people could die from it. That is three times the number of people that died in WW II.

Also some younger people might die from it (in their 40s). Perhaps that happens when they get a lot of viruses (doctors without protection) or when they inhaled the virus rather than got it in through touch?

Dogs can get the virus and pass it on but don’t get sick themselves. Kids rarely will get it and pass it on but it doesn’t seem to kill them.

Isn’t the seasonal flu worse?

This new coronavirus is about 20 times more deadly than the flu. But it is not as contagious as the flu. Try to prevent a flu epidemic without vaccination — forget it. But preventing this infection is possible. And 20 times more important!

If we would not prevent its spread, many more would die from this new virus than from flu. So, it is much worse but often can be prevented.

However, this virus uses another trick than other microbes. It still may emerge from people who don’t feel sick yet, who are infected but won’t feel sick at all, and also from people who feel healed. Sneaky! Therefore, it’s more important to prevent getting the virus than giving the virus.

But we are familiar with the flu so that doesn’t alarm us as much. Part of the panic is unfamiliarity; but part of it is for real.

How come some countries report very different mortality rates?

The situation in some countries might be different.

Some countries may suppress the number of deaths for PR reasons.

Many countries under-test. Then the percentage of deaths seem higher. If 100 died, there are probably 5,000 people infected.

The situation of many walking around untested is more dangerous.

How come regular antibiotics don’t work?

Antibiotics work against bacteria. These are tiny microscopical plants that have a great time inside our body and multiply there. Fever is to weaken them and antibiotics are to poison them. The body’s immunity may do the final execution but it may take a week to make antibodies in sufficient quantities, that may also prevent a repeat infection.

Viruses are different. They are more primitive and cannot live on their own. They need to parasite on our cells. They infiltrate the nucleus of cells and force them to make new virus particles. We need to wait for our bodies to create the antibodies to conquer the infection. Stuff that would kill or weaken the viruses would also weaken and kill us.

There is some stuff that may work (PReP for the AIDS virus) but those medications take a long time to develop. Prevention is not only better than cure. Vaccination, in the end, may be the only thing we have.

Those who get very sick from this virus typically have pneumonia. Oxygen under higher pressure may be used to try to get enough of it into the body. If that doesn’t help, an external lung may be used (like an artificial kidney) but this is all in support of health, waiting for the body to conquer the virus. No workable medication has been found so far.

Should we be optimistic or pessimistic?

We should be cautious because we don’t want to risk our life or that of others. But in the longer run, we can be optimistic because this too will pass. Just try to make the effort that you will be around to watch the happy ending.

One should be extra cautious when the reported number of sick is not 50 times the death toll, which probably means that many infected go undetected.

Shouldn’t we all walk around with face masks?

The main way this virus spreads is: you get it on your hands and then you touch the mucous (soft) inner lining of your nose, eyes or mouth. That’s how the virus gets in.

It’s impossible to keep your hands sterile. You handle things that others touched all the time, often unconsciously. Like money, doorknobs, elevator buttons, mail, etc. What is doable and highly protective:
1. Learn to wash your hands and do it before you touch your face or eat.
2. Never ever ever touch your mucous membranes unless you just washed.
3. Diminish the amount of virus you could get. Touch the door handle with a piece of cloth (always the same side turned to your hand), don’t shake hands, don’t kiss. When the danger is gone, you may catch up.

Alcohol gel on your hands is better than nothing but not as good as washing with soap. Maybe, after an alcohol bath, rub your hands on your non-exposed skin to re-colonize them with your natural bacteria.

Wiping surfaces before you touch them or before you put stuff on them that you will touch (books) is better than nothing. Better to let bleach dry on them (wiping with bleach is not enough).

Facemasks are generally unsafe. They give a false misplaced sense of security. They typically work a bit because they prevent you from touching your nose and mouth. But the normal ones don’t stop these small viruses, they typically are not air-tight, you wear them inside-out or touch the outside and they infect you. They are good for someone with the virus who coughs, to less spread the virus. Medical personal should wear them but they know how and have special ones.

What may help is to eat well and sleep enough. These things may fortify immunity.

Are there certain jobs that are hi-risk for getting the virus?

Yes there are. We all can learn from how especially these workers should protect themselves since most people also take money, shake hands, meet tourists, touch railings, etc.

  • Bus drivers. You will touch money, bus passes, etc. You have to regard your hands (and the steering wheel and anything you touch at work) as infected, as if it is radioactive. Keep those hands away from your face until after you washed them thoroughly as instructed and do so when you go home (and when you get home if you used public transportation). Don’t let passengers stand and breathe over you.
  • Rabbis. Stop shaking those hands (and Mizrachic rabbis kissing those hands or cheeks), no exceptions! Not only are you endangering yourself and your family, you also endanger everyone who touches you because you could turn your whole congregation from uninfected to infected. Besides, as you know, everyone watches your every move; if you are sloppy about this, you are telling others they can be too. They whole difference between an animal and a human is ayin, that we can [go against our feeling and instincts and] say no.
  • Cashiers. You will touch money and credit cards. You have to regard your hands (and the cash register and anything you touch at work) as infected, as if it is radioactive. Keep those hands away from your face until after you washed them thoroughly as instructed and do so when you go home (and when you get home if you used public transportation).
  • Health Care Workers. You’re used to think about things like that and you understand a lot about health so your brain is in gear and you will protect yourself. However, your biggest danger is to help the virus spread from patient to patient. You must be extra careful about that.
  • Concierges and Porters. You work with travelers and tourists and handle luggage and money and touch door handles and elevator buttons. You have to regard your hands (and anything you touch at work after your touched the above) as infected, as if it is radioactive. Keep those hands away from your face until after you washed them thoroughly as instructed and do so when you go home (and when you get home if you used public transportation).
  • Cleaners. Especially cleaners of bathrooms. Bowel movement can contain the virus. And the tabs that people use to clean their hands are probably also laced with virus particles. Consider your hands (and anything you touch at work before washing your hands) as infected, as if it is radioactive. Keep those hands away from your face until after you washed them thoroughly as instructed and do so when you go home (and again when you get home if you used public transportation).

Is there any use to try to postpone getting it if 70% will get it anyway?

Yes. The longer you postpone getting infected, the greater the chance:
That enough people got it already and became immune so that the epidemic dies down.
That the virus has mutated to a milder form (happened in China already).
That doctors already will better understand how to prevent the infection to get out of hand and turn deadly, especially in people at risk.
That doctors already have found medication that helps to cure serious cases.
That you smear out the number of infections over a longer period (“to flatten the curve”) to prevent hospitals, medical personnel, and the health system from caving in under an enormous workload (endangering all patients with dangerous diseases).
That there already will be a vaccine to protect you.
That you will belong to the 30% throughout.

How do I prevent infecting people around me?

Tell them to protect themselves (see above). Don’t sneeze or breath on them (use your elbow). Don’t shake hands or kiss. Discard your own tissue and face mask. Don’t share food or utensils or bathroom. Clean and keep your own dishes. Clean your own bathroom. Clean your hands as well as we all do regularly. Stay in when you feel unwell. If it could be corona, immediately call the authorities to get tested. Don’t go to a GP or hospital (to not infect everybody). If you’re ordered to quarantine, don’t cut corners. (Better to miss a movie, wedding or a funeral than to kill people.) Even if you’re allowed to be about, try to work from home. Shop in bulk amounts less frequently. Buy food that doesn’t need refrigeration that will last longer (dried beans, grains, tinned foods). Stock up on medicine and anything you’d need in the next 60 days.

What can we expect?

It will get a lot worse before it gets better. Butch up a bit.

Expect a lot of unnecessary hype and drama around you and in the media. Realize that you are under no obligation to listen to it all.

When some people get sick without known infection route, there is a community-based spread of the virus — anyone could be infected already. Be extra protective of your health. Avoid crowds. Especially, if you’re from a high-risk group, postpone all outing (shopping, doctors appointments, for fun) that are not urgent. Instruct your visitors, housemates, and roommates. Don’t trust those that can’t be trusted.

The health industry will be overrun, more by worried people than the very sick, endangering people who need all kinds of medical support.

Society will become very different but only for a year or two.

Won’t this epidemic die down like the flu after the winter?

We don’t know that. We could hope so. However, it seems unlikely as Australia got the same problems like China and down-under it’s now summer. So, probably this is not seasonal. But after denying the budding epidemic for three weeks, China got it cornered in 10 weeks, so it is possible — though maybe only under a regime without human rights.

What will this pandemic do to the economy?

Obviously, this costs a lot of money. Cities on lockdown means many people losing their jobs, workplaces and businesses closings, the national and international economy going into recession. The poor and the poorer countries will suffer the most. The economy will recover but it will take time. Prepare to live with less and show what you’re made of.

The overly strict measures Israel is taking hurt the local economy early but protect it in the longer run. South Korea is the best in mass testing. There is no prevention without. Other countries could (should) take an example of these two.

Now you’re not yet completely overwhelmed, think about if your job is at risk and what your plan B would be if you lose your income. While the middle class has more savings (that will devalue through the financial crisis), they will be less ready to live with less. Maybe working class people and middle class people should team up. Give some money to the workers and get some knowledge from them about setting priorities.

If you were sick with this virus, will you be immune?

For a short while probably for sure. In the longer run maybe not. And if the virus mutates, you might not be immune to the new variant.

What is the connection between this outbreak and climate change?

There is no connection. They kill independently of each other.

But for protecting the planet we need to eat less meat. Climate change threatens to kill us all. This pandemic may kill many people (also from poverty and then hunger) but will not make us go extinct.

But to prevent such outbreaks in the future, it would be good to forbid everyone on the whole planet (execute people who violate this) from killing and eating animals that are not domesticated for centuries (if at all) and forbid giving ground meat to vegetarian animals. Take your yearly flu shot and vaccinate your kids with anything they have.

Read my earlier posts on the coronavirus here:
● Coronavirus and Politics
● It most likely will happen to you but you have a big chance to survive
● How dangerous may we expect such a new virus to be?
● It seems very possible that the coronavirus is spreading in Jerusalem already
● Know this about the newest Coronavirus
● Coronavirus fears? Come to Israel (if it lets you in)!
● The Israeli Ministry of health’s coronavirus preventative guidelines are faulty

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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