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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)

What the NHS Could and Should Be in a Post-Brexit World

by John Brian Shannon

One of the great things about a post-Brexit Britain is that almost everything in the UK can begin anew, with a clean sheet as it were, and number one on that list should be the country’s excellent National Health Service (NHS).

At present, the UK contributes £12 billion more to the annual EU budget than it receives, and that’s a nice round number to spend on the NHS once Brexit occurs. Although there are certainly other sectors of the UK economy that could use that amount of funding.

But, for now, let’s concentrate on what the post-Brexit world could (and should) mean for Britain’s NHS.

And since we’re starting with a clean sheet, let’s not be limited by our present thinking and instead focus on how the NHS could provide better healthcare to Britons, and how the NHS could better serve the UK.


How to Maximize the NHS

The NHS should be required by UK legislation to begin operating at a 10% profit within 10-years of Brexit

How can the NHS operate at a profit when it can’t even hit break-even now, you ask?

Simple.

Secret Ingredient #1 – Cost savings through energy efficiency

At present, the NHS operates a large number of old hospitals, which at the time they were built were probably considered world-class hospital and administration buildings. But I guarantee that none were built to the LEED Gold nor the LEED Silver energy efficiency standard — let alone the net-zero energy usage standard called LEED Platinum as those standards were only developed in recent years.

Many NHS hospitals face energy bills of more than £1 million per month because they’re old buildings and were never worth the cost of renovating them to LEED energy efficiency standards.

As there are over 1600 NHS hospitals, clinics, and administration buildings (but nobody knows for certain because there’s so much overlap and duplication) and if each of those buildings are costing an average of £1 million per month to heat, light, and air-condition, that totals £‭19,200,000,000‬ annually.

Here’s the arithmetic: 1600 x (£1,000,000. x 12 months) = £‭19,200,000,000.

So, £‭19 billion is going straight out the window every year in wasted energy. And let’s pretend there’s another £‭1 billion in other inefficiencies in these older, no longer fit for purpose hospitals, for a grand total of £‭20 billion worth of wasted NHS funding annually.

That’s a lot of wasted money.

However, the NHS has never been asked to turn a profit, and therefore, didn’t have the money to build newer, more fit for purpose buildings over the decades — or to throw good money after bad trying to turn old, unfit for purpose buildings into LEED Certified energy efficient buildings that require zero (net) energy from the grid.

Indeed, some buildings in the United States contribute more energy to the grid than they consume due to their LEED Platinum certification, which results in a net zero energy cost annually, and such buildings can provide a tidy return on investment each February 1 when the utility companies are obligated by law (California) to settle-up with minor power producers connected to the grid. Granted, there’s a lot more sunshine in California and making it easier for a building to produce more power than it uses over the course of a year.

But UK wind turbines add power to the grid all year (particularly in autumn, winter and spring) and as for solar power in the UK, the solar insolation value (the amount of sun that falls on one square metre) is dramatically higher during the summer in the UK.

So, on the one hand, we have a cash-strapped NHS that can’t afford new buildings that would allow them to save £‭20 billion in wasted energy per year, nor can they afford to refit their existing buildings to make them energy efficient because that’s even more expensive than building new, energy compliant hospitals and administration buildings.

Should the UK continue to throw good money after bad in the NHS, or should the government use taxpayer money to turn the NHS into a profit-making venture?

The answer couldn’t be clearer.


So Far, We’ve Talked About Saving £20 Billion Annually; But How Can the NHS Earn 10% Profit Annually?

Almost every developed country in the world has a universal healthcare system that charges their citizens a monthly healthcare insurance premium.

In Canada, that premium tends to be $65.00 – $100.00 per month/per adult — although some provinces in Canada pay the monthly premiums for their residents out of general (tax) revenue.

Here’s the monthly healthcare insurance premiums in the province of British Columbia, Canada:

BC monthly healthcare insurance premium chart 2018

BC monthly healthcare insurance premium chart 2018. Image courtesy of the British Columbia Medical Services Plan. Click the image to visit their website.

Yet, as reasonable as those premiums are, the full cost of care is covered by the Medical Services Plan (MSP) whether those injuries/sudden onset disease/chronic disease or other maladies befall the patient while in British Columbia or anywhere else in Canada — or while travelling abroad.

Further, whenever wait times for patient care become extended within the BC (MSP) system, British Columbia’s Medical Services Plan authorizes Doctors and Surgeons to outsource patient treatment to Canada’s other provincial healthcare systems, or patients may be sent for treatment to the United States where MSP pays the full cost of treatment — even if said treatment costs more in the U.S. than it would in British Columbia.

Which is a typical model that developed nation healthcare systems follow.

Secret Ingredient #2 – Accepting Foreign Patients to Add Revenue to the NHS

Some developing nations also follow this model with their national healthcare systems (outsourcing and paying for medically necessary procedures they can’t perform in their own country, or when they can’t perform necessary procedures in a reasonable timeframe due to scheduling issues) and private insurers often shop for a better rate or timeframe for insured persons so that the patient receives expert and more timely care — which creates better healthcare outcomes for their clients.

So, why wouldn’t the UK government fund dozens of brand-new, state of the art, energy efficient NHS hospitals specially designed with additional capacity to accept planeloads of patients sent to the UK by foreign healthcare providers?

In that way, over time — and let’s be realistic, this is a 10-year programme to capture every possible foreign healthcare opportunity and payment from overseas healthcare systems — the NHS could begin to show a profit, thereby helping to subsidize the astonishingly high cost of providing healthcare services to Britons.

Even if accepting foreign patients earns the NHS only adds 5% to their revenues in year-5 of this proposal, that’s still 5% more funding than the NHS presently receives from the UK government.

Therefore, a massive new hospital spending programme is a sensible way to improve the NHS budget picture and help them fund the purchase of expensive diagnostic and other medical equipment. Not to mention better healthcare outcomes for Britons and for Commonwealth nation citizens who will travel to the UK to receive treatment paid-for by their respective healthcare insurer, whether private or public.

Let’s hope that British politicians are wise enough to see the value of such a proposition and that they’re larger than life — because that’s what it’s going to take to get the job done.

In previous generations British politicians were up to the challenges of their time; Wouldn’t it be great if this generation of UK politicians were up to the challenges of our time?

UK and 10 other countries, Health Care System Performance Rankings

UK and 10 other countries, Health Care System Performance Rankings 2018. International Health Policy Center. Image courtesy of the Commonwealth Fund.

The above chart demonstrates why foreign countries could and should send their overflow patients to the NHS… as every year since rankings began, the NHS has scored either #1 or #2 in the annual Commonwealth Healthcare Performance Rankings.

Have a great week, everyone!