UPDATE : Tuesday 10 November – I am very excited to now release a “semi-final” version of the book, an encyclopaedic 419 pages in length. If you have an earlier version, please now take a new copy of the current version.
Here’s a great new convenience for you – a book-length PDF document containing a reasonably complete roundup of everything you might want or need to do know about the coronavirus, and based on my seven months (so far) of assiduous study and writing on the topic.
I first wrote about the coronavirus on 24 January, and had been monitoring it for a while prior to then. On 31 January, I gave the virus topic a separate section in my weekly newsletter, and on 20 February my coverage escalated further when I published the first dedicated article on the virus. The very next day I announced I was cancelling the May and June Travel Insider tours to France and Scotland, and suspending the status of the September ‘stans tour and December Christmas Markets tour (both of which are now sadly cancelled too).
Since February I have been spending hours, every day, searching out the latest developments and analyzing the latest data, trying to understand what is happening with our evolving understanding of and approach to this virus.
In total, since my first dedicated article, I have published 150+ stand-alone articles about the virus (and over 1,000 tweets). I’ve not counted, but I’m guessing the total word count to be in the range of 300,000 words (ie an average of 2000 words per article – some have been over 5,000 words). That compares with the longest of the Lord of the Rings books (a “mere” 188,000 words) and is easily three times the words in an average novel.
I Am Not an Expert, But….
I should add a disclaimer, and so hasten to add that none of the time I’ve spent studying the virus, nor the words I’ve written, makes me an expert. But I will claim to no longer be a novice.
In the context of not being an expert, I also note an increasing tendency, particularly by people on Twitter, to try and silence people they disagree with – not to debate issues with them, but to try to silence their different views, because they are not “medical professionals”. Ignoring the irony that the silencers themselves usually are not medical professionals either (but generous with their opinions, nonetheless!), the suggestion is that all people who are not medical professionals should silently and gratefully accept without comment or complaint the information from such authorities.
That is a nonsense statement for several reasons. First, there very few, maybe even no uniform consensuses among medical experts. Furthermore, many experts have been spectacularly wrong over the last several months on many key things to do with the virus.
The concept of doctors being wrong is widely accepted. If all doctors were always right about everything, the whole idea of “always get a second opinion” would not be so strongly advocated.
Slightly more subtly, if all doctors know everything about the virus, why does the US have one of the highest rates of Covid-19 infections and deaths of any country in the world? For that matter, if doctors are omniscient, why haven’t they also cured cancer and the common cold?
I’m not blaming doctors, whether for the current lack of knowledge and consensus about the coronavirus, or for the lack of cures for colds and cancer. No-one – not even doctors – knew anything about Covid-19 and the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes it until just a few months ago. And medical science, while stunningly advanced, is far from all-knowing – which is all the more reason of course to welcome new viewpoints and data.
Another point to appreciate is that most of the skills and knowledge being deployed to understand this virus outbreak are in the fields of epidemiology, data analysis, sampling and statistics – issues that spill a long way out of what a typical physician does. Indeed, I’ll modestly point out, if I may (and if I need to), these areas of expertise fit closely within my post-graduate studies in data analysis and statistics and my many years of market research and data interpretation.
But, I’m definitely not an expert, so in the material I provide to you, everything I say is backed up with “scholarly” links and references.
There’s another consideration, too. The people who insist that only “medical professionals” should be allowed to discuss and opine on these matters create a new issue. What level of medical professional should be permitted to have an opinion? Can anyone with an MD offer their thoughts, or even demand we accept them? Or is a post-grad additional qualification needed? How about a LPN or an RN? Or a paramedic? At what point is a person enough of a medical professional to be allowed to share their thoughts?
Finally on this point, maybe it takes special knowledge to determine something like “aerosolized droplets can spread up to 20 ft from an infected person whenever they speak, laugh, breathe and cough”. But it does not take specialized knowledge to then have an opinion as to whether, based on this medical finding, we should therefore require 3′ or 6′ or some other degree of separation between people to minimize the virus spread. It also doesn’t take specialized medical knowledge to look at the past history of vaccine development and problems that have caused vaccines to fail or to even make things worse, and then to express an opinion on the wisdom of accelerating the development of a vaccine now and short-circuiting a lot of the testing that would normally take place over many years.
A lot of public health policy is based not on medicine but on the social consequences of its application, and the necessary compromises between “too much disruption”, “too much cost” and “too many cases/deaths”. We all have an equal voice in that discussion, because it is about public policy rather than medical science.
In general, with the technical stuff, I’m the conduit, not the originator, of the information passed on to you. If you disagree with me, don’t argue with me, but argue with the sources. With the value judgments, I don’t hesitate to make my own, but explain my reasoning and allow you to decide for yourself, which is much more than the people demanding compliance and unthinking acceptance of what “the experts” tell us would allow.
Saving You from Drowning in Data
The problem I now find is that within the 300,000 words and 150 articles, there are some excellent items of “news you can use” that deserve focus and attention, and there are also other items that are trivial, or which have evolved beyond their original understanding, and which can be overlooked. Increasingly, I’ve been feeling the need to boil all of this down to its most concentrated essence of practical information that we can all understand and benefit from, and to switch from a mix of snippets twice a week to a more orderly flow.
There’s a very practical underlying concern. I’ve asked myself questions such as “How do I know if I have the virus or not?”. Sure, I’ve written on that point dozens of times about all the strange and scary symptoms, but how to find the most recent up-to-date information out of the quarter million and more words? Another question “What can I expect if I have the virus and when will I know if I am cured or if I need to go to hospital?”, with similar problems. And many others – all vitally important questions for us all, and the last thing we want to do while suffering from a fever and malaise is to have to do some research and creative thinking. We want and need easy answers in front of us.
And so, I’ve prepared this single book that covers all aspects of the virus. What it is, how you can catch it, how you can minimize your risk of becoming infected, how to know if you are infected, and what to do at every stage of the process prior to any necessary hospitalization.
This is what I term a “living document”. It is one I’ll update regularly to ensure that the latest new developments are included.
Much of the content in the book can be found in the articles and links that I’ve written and shared and will continue to write and share. But this single book saves you wading through everything and the hundreds – probably thousands – of related links, allowing you to quickly go to subjects like “Medical Equipment You Should Have at Home” and “How to Know if You Have the Virus” and – more happily – “How to Know if You are Cured”.
The document also contains a roundup of the most persuasive (in my non-doctor opinion) of the various remedies and treatments to help reduce the impact of the virus, and information about where all such items can be purchased.
I am offering this document, completely free of charge, to all the Silver, Gold, Diamond and Platinum Travel Insider Supporters who have so kindly and generously chosen to help keep this website up and running. Without your help, none of this would be possible – as always, my sincerest appreciation and thanks.
If you’re not already a Travel Insider Supporter, you can become a Supporter here and will get instant access to this and all the other additional special member-only content after joining.
As always, I never want to overlook people who can’t conveniently support me. So I’ve created a substantial series of excerpts, totaling 124 pages, that gives you a lot of the background and general information on the topic. Everyone can download that here.
If you are a Supporter, please make sure you’ve logged in to your account and when you have, you’ll see the next section in purple with access to the main complete document.
SUPPORTER ONLY CONTENT
END OF SUPPORTER ONLY CONTENT
I hope you found this information helpful and useful. Please do keep checking back regularly – I show the most recent version date before the download link so you can compare it to the version you have.
And, as always, please feel free to comment, to suggest additional articles and data, and to help in any way to ensure that this is as helpful and valid a resource as possible. Unlike some of the sources, I’ve no dog in this fight and no skin in the game, other than wanting to ensure my own continued well-being, and of course, that of you, my valued and appreciated supporters, too!
- Thursday 8 October : A massive addition of 42 more pages of material to the Supporter version (now 322 pages released).
- Sunday 4 October : Another 19 pages added to the Supporter version (now 280 pages released).
- Thursday 1 October : Another 19 pages added to the Supporter version (now 261 pages released).
- Sunday 13 September : Another 24 pages added to the Supporter version (now 242 pages released).
- Thursday 10 September : Another 28 pages added to the Supporter version (now 218 pages released), and a redone sample public document, with the introductory material and the first page of each subsequent chapter.
- Sunday 6 September : We’ve added another 17 pages to the Supporter version of the document.
- Thursday 27 August : Another 14 pages of content added to the Supporter version of the document, with various rewrites and updates throughout as well.
- Tuesday 25 August : We’ve a major new release today, with another 32 pages of content to the special Supporter version of the document, and another two pages to the public sample document.
- Wednesday 19 August : We’ve added another 12 pages to the special Travel Insider version of the document, in addition to some minor rewrites and additions to existing material.
- Monday : Five more pages added to the public document, and a generous 15 new pages to the special Travel Insider Supporter edition.
- Sunday : Another busy day with 10 more pages added to the public document, including a new section near the beginning and slight more, 12 pages, added to the supporter only version.
- Saturday : Today I’ve redone the introduction and added another 14 pages to the public document and 22 pages to the supporter only version.
- Friday night : I’ve extensively rewritten and added to the content in the two documents attached. The public document has grown by ten more pages, and the supporter only document has grown 16 pages.