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Will Copper Help Prevent the Next Pandemic?

by John Brian Shannon

Copper symbol courtesy of Serge Averbukh

According to experts, if railings and doorknobs were copper-coated, viruses and bacteria would be killed on contact, as copper kills germs almost instantly. Copper image courtesy of Serge Averbukh

It’s a little-known fact that the element copper kills viruses and bacteria upon contact, in less than a minute; It’s less-known that the typical Western diet is lacking in this crucial micronutrient.

Therefore, in the context of the Novel Coronavirus known as (COVID-19) shouldn’t we be manufacturing our subway handholds, turnstiles, railings, door handles and other commonly touched surfaces from this interesting and useful metal? Not to mention that we should eat the recommended daily allowance of this vital nutrient in case it helps to protect us in a general way from killer viruses and bacteria.

I’m not saying that copper is some kind of panacea and that we’ll never catch another cold or virus as long as we live, but you should read what an expert on the topic says here.

However, those studies didn’t include copper cooking utensils, copper thread woven into fabric or copper toilet handles or any other way of using copper to kill germs of all kinds — it only focused on 10% of the most commonly touched surfaces in hospitals.

Imagine a hospital where all handrails, doorknobs, the siderails on hospital beds and countertops/washbasins were made from copper, or even brass, which has a significant amount of copper in it.


Getting Proactive About Making Life Difficult for Viruses and Bacteria in Public Areas

What if we coated everything from countertops, to car door handles, to handrails and more in copper, and it decreased the infection rate by pathogens by ‘only’ 50 per cent? (Including COVID-19)

Think what that would do to lower NHS costs, not to mention saving thousands of lives and reducing trauma for people, businesses, and governments. Seen what Coronavirus is doing to people’s lives, small business, and to society these days?

We’re told that it’s going to get worse before it gets better, although China, after expending Herculean effort seems to have COVID-19 under control. Let’s hope that Western healthcare systems fare the same or better as more information about how to fight this Coronavirus variant comes to light.

At least Prime Minister Boris Johnson is taking it seriously, as are the leaders of the devolved territories of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

In America, President Trump finally got on the bandwagon and is doing more than any Western leader to slow the spread of COVID-19 in his country although some have termed the steps the United States is taking as ‘draconian’ — yet, they’re the same sort of people who would sue the U.S. government for any subsequent illness had he not ordered strong measures to protect Americans. And in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken far-reaching steps to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

After missing the boat initially, Western politicians have now ramped-up to meet the threat posed by this novel coronavirus.

Of course, it’s too late to install copper coatings on every subway car railing or handhold, turnstile, or ATM, and on every park bench armrest and every public building doorknob.

Or is it? Maybe now, during the present Coronavirus event maintenance workers could be doing the work in a timely fashion!

A great thing about copper is that any metal fixture can be electroplated with copper, or it can be hydrostatically applied (electo-painted) to surfaces by spraying a special copper emulsion onto the surface where it magnetically attaches and cures. Both electroplating and hydrostatic coating methods result in a very strong and permanent bond to the substrate metal. However, these methods result in a copper coating only a few microns thick which means heavily-used surfaces (like subway handrails) might need to be recoated every year or two. Still, both electroplating and hydrostatic coatings are a realistic way to cover metal surfaces with a metal that kills every kind of pathogen almost instantly — whether virus or bacteria.

Similar could be done using either brass (which contains plenty of copper) or silver (which also kills germs of any kind but is more expensive than brass or copper) and gold (which is even better at killing viruses and bacteria, although costly) and none of these metals tarnish as copper does. Therefore, the choice of metal (copper, brass, silver, gold) would depend upon the application. Even automotive steering wheel buttons could be made from copper, brass, silver, or for Rolls Royce owners, gold; Remember, each time you touch one of the buttons, you’re killing the germs on your fingertips.

While this suggestion won’t help much in the present COVID-19 crisis, it could reduce infections in the future that are transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces, especially on public transit, in public areas (think: stairwell railings, park benches, ATM machines, etc.) and in hospitals, senior citizen homes and other areas of high usage.


‘An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure’

One day, governments, healthcare systems, and citizens will finally realize that the old phrase, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is among the most-valuable wisdom ever passed down from your ancestors. So take that advice and run with it for your own good and the good of future generations, by incorporating copper, brass, silver, or gold on commonly touched surfaces, and inside of the now ubiquitous water bottles. Interestingly, if you fill your pure copper water bottle with clean water and leave it overnight in the fridge, you’ll benefit because some tiny amount of the copper will dissolve into the water and you’ll thereby gain a small amount of copper in your diet over a few weeks.

(Caution: Don’t fill your copper water bottle with citrus juice and leave it overnight in the fridge, as you can ingest too much copper because the acid in the citrus will dissolve a small amount of the copper and it will leach into the liquid. Remember, it’s a micronutrient. We don’t get enough of it, but high-ish doses from any source including leachate from copper water bottles full of acidic drinks will make you feel dizzy and tired if you use your copper water bottle improperly over a period of weeks)

And for 24/7 germ-killing action on coins; Why not ensure that all future coins are manufactured with high copper or silver content — high enough to kill germs in seconds? Seems a simple way to prevent the spread of one of the most handled surfaces of all.


Related Articles:

  • The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What’s Coming (Wired.com)
  • Copper kills coronavirus. Why aren’t our surfaces covered in it? (FAST COMPANY)

Transferability – The Solution to Systemic Bottlenecks in the NHS

by John Brian Shannon

Unfortunately for large healthcare providers like the UK’s highly rated National Health Service (NHS) people don’t always get sick near their local hospital. Rather, people will become ill, get injured, or encounter long-term illness everywhere throughout the United Kingdom regardless of where hospitals are located. Which is why some UK hospitals are full to overflowing while others have spare capacity.

One way to improve healthcare outcomes in the NHS is to incorporate transferability of treatment to relieve bottlenecks in the system.

Patients who can’t be treated in their local hospital due to lack of available capacity could be transferred to other hospitals in the UK where some amount of spare capacity exists and receive their treatment sooner than waiting for treatment at their local hospital. And even accounting for airline or rail tickets, possibly an overnight stay in a reasonably priced hotel in cases where the airline vs. operating room schedules don’t match, and for other incidental patient costs the health service would be required to pay, it would save the NHS money and dramatically improve healthcare outcomes for patients.

Patients who desire an upgraded hotel room could pay the difference themselves between the (covered by the NHS) standard room rate and the upgraded room rate.

When a patient has cancer, heart problems or other serious health issues, nothing is gained by making the patient wait for a treatment date in a hospital close to their home, because almost 100 per cent of the time those conditions will worsen as the patient waits for treatment.

Delayed treatment significantly increases treatment costs — because during the days, weeks or months of delay, the patient’s disease is certain to worsen.

Even those with slipped discs or other musculoskeletal impairments find their condition worsens over the amount of time their treatment is delayed. To say nothing about the suffering of the individual and their families while the person remains in a precarious health situation.

But if patients with serious conditions receive treatment sooner, healthcare outcomes for patients will improve and NHS statistics would improve because the disease or condition won’t have progressed as far in the case of faster treatment vs. waiting extra weeks or months for treatment at a local hospital.


Increase in Productivity

Workers who can’t work, can’t contribute much to GDP.

What is also true is that with faster treatment workers can return to work sooner and contribute to their company and by extension to the GDP of the United Kingdom.

Unhealthy people cost the economy, while healthy people contribute more. It’s therefore in the best interests of the government to get everyone the treatment they need with the minimum of delay.


Little Room for Improvement in the NHS

For an idea of just how highly the NHS is ranked in the world, please view the following chart courtesy of The Commonwealth Fund, an organization which ranks global healthcare systems via a number of metrics.

UK NHS and 10 other countries, Health Care System Performance Rankings

Health Care System Performance Rankings for the UK and 10 other countries. Image courtesy of The Commonwealth Fund.

It’s easy to see there is little room for improvement within the NHS, but Access (the ability to access treatment within a reasonable timeframe) and Health Care Outcomes (the success rate of treatment — which is often related to waiting times associated with treatment) could be significantly improved.


Scotland, Here I Come!

Some amount of transferability of treatment exists within the NHS at present, however, those in England tend to be treated or wait for treatment within England only. Scottish patients may be transferred to other hospitals in Scotland, and Welsh patients may be transferred to other hospitals in Wales. It’s likely a similar situation exists within Northern Ireland.

What would work to decrease bottlenecks in the NHS and thereby improve healthcare access and healthcare outcomes would be treatment transferability for patients throughout the entire United Kingdom.

Doctors could provide their patients with options for treatment when full transferability becomes the norm; (Example) “You can wait 6 weeks for treatment at your local hospital, or we can fly you to Scotland tomorrow, put you up in a reasonable hotel overnight and your operation will be scheduled for 7:00am the following day, and we’ll fly you home a day or two after the attending surgeon approves you for travel.”

For patients in severe musculoskeletal pain, or experiencing rapid cancer growth, or increasing difficulty in breathing or experiencing other serious symptoms, the sooner they can obtain treatment the happier and healthier they’re likely to be. That’s a win for patients, for doctors, for under-booked operating rooms in far-flung regions, for NHS statistics, and even for UK productivity stats and GDP.

There are so many ways to win with treatment transferability throughout the entire United Kingdom. It’s really the only systemic improvement left for the NHS.

Building more hospitals is expensive (and necessary in any case) but directing patients to underutilized hospitals (now, and even after more hospitals are built) can help patients towards sooner and better health while improving Access and Health Care Outcomes statistics for the NHS.