Immunity and Covid-19

Covid-19, the new coronavirus, causes only mild disease in four out of five people who get infected, the World Health Organisation has said.

More than 80% of patients have mild disease and will recover, 14% have severe disease including pneumonia and shortness of breath, 5% have critical disease including respiratory failure, septic shock and multi-organ failure, and 2% of cases are fatal,” the WHO director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva. “The risk of death increases the older you are.”

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

So the same virus, infecting different people, produces different outcomes. Clearly it’s not the virus that makes the difference – but the strength of people’s immune systems. Older people generally have weaker immune systems.

I am 73 years old. I haven’t needed antibiotics (or any other medication) for 45 years! I simply don’t get ill. There will be times when I feel a bit ‘washed out’ and suspect I’ve picked up a ‘bug’ – but it will be gone in 24 hours or so. But it wasn’t always like that.

Made my life miserable

As a child I picked up every infection that was doing the rounds. From I was 18 till I was 28 I would get a very nasty bout of bronchitis twice a year and I would be in bed for a fortnight each time. Constant ulcerated throats also made my life miserable. My mother was a chronic bronchitic – as was my grandmother – and I wasn’t looking forward to getting old!

One day, three days into my usual pre-Christmas bout of bronchitis, I dragged myself out of bed and took myself off to a local town where, I popped into a herbalist shop (no health shops back in those days). I asked the old lady who owned the shop if there was anything she could recommend for my bronchitis. “Yes,” she replied, “Garlic.”

I wasn’t too impressed – but I thought I’d give it a go and bought some garlic tablets. Instead of being in bed for a fortnight I was out of bed three days later. And that was 45 years ago. I’ve never had bronchitis since! Modern research has now demonstrated that garlic is both antiviral and antibacterial. Read more about garlic here

Disordered microbiome

During those years, from I was 18 till I was 28, I was prescribed 6 or 8 courses of antibiotics annually for the constant, varied, infections I kept on getting. It wasn’t understood, back then that, by killing off the helpful bacteria as well as the harmful bacteria, antibiotics disorder the microbiome of the body and impair the immune system. Like winning the battle, only to lose the war! Garlic, on the other hand, kills off only pathogens.

It’s worth noting that the people who are most at risk from the coronavirus – the elderly and those with underlying health conditions – are the very ones who are most likely to have been prescribed repeated courses of antibiotics.

Build up your immunity

For the past 45 years I have researched, given talks upon, written about and put into practice in my own and my family’s lives – every aspect of nutrition, health and immunity.

So I would encourage everyone – young and old – to restore their microbiome and build up their immunity (we should all be doing that anyway – even without the new coronavirus. Seasonal flu also has poorer outcomes for those with weaker immunity.)


Immune-enhancing nutrients

The elderly are also the most likely to be deficient in critical immune-enhancing nutrients:-

Vitamin C is one of the biggest immune system booster of all.

Cod-liver oil will supply the immune enhancing vitamins A and D and essential fatty acids.

Zinc deficiency will impair the immune system, so a zinc supplement is a good precaution.

Click here for more information on infection-fighting nutrients – and where to to get them

Top up the helpful gut bacteria

Nowadays much more is understood about the crucial importance of a healthy microbiome to good immunity. Natural yoghurt or, even better – kefir, replenishes the helpful bacteria that are killed off by antibiotics. These have tremendous immune-boosting powers. You can also use a probiotic supplement.


Raw garlic has antibacterial and antiviral properties. Cooking garlic, however, destroys the allicin in garlic, so you’ll need to use raw garlic (or a good supplement) to prevent or fight infections. You can actually get allicin itself in supplement form.

There are many, many other natural remedies that are antiviral and antibacterial. The herb, neem, is a very good example of this.

More things you can do

Eat lots of colourful fruits and vegetables. They are full of antioxidants which will destroy the free radicals that weaken our immune system

Stay well-hydrated. Water or herbal teas are excellent. No sugary drinks, please!

Bone broth (just like Grandma used to make) has amazing immune-supporting properties.

Avoid simple sugars and processed/junk food. Did you know that your blood shows laboratory evidence of a lowered immune system within 30 minutes of eating simple sugars (like glucose, refined sugar, and fructose), and causes a 50% reduction in your white blood cells’ abilities to kill pathogens? White blood cells are our “army” cells that fight off the nasty ‘bugs’.

Get fresh air and moderate daily exercise. Moderate exercise can boost the production of macrophages, the kind of white blood cells that “eat” bacteria and viruses.

Get adequate sleep. An increase in sleep actually increases the number of your white blood cells. On the other hand, loss of sleep even for a few hours at night, increases inflammation in our body which makes us more susceptible to infection and experiencing more severe symptoms.

Minimise stress. Emotional stress creates physiological stress in our bodies that lowers our immune defences and makes us more vulnerable to illness. Stress has been shown to lower our white blood cells’ abilities to kill pathogens, and actually creates more inflammation that may make us feel even sicker.

See also:

Infection fighters

Neem is antiviral

Garlic is antiviral

Kefir to enhance immunity

Eucalyptus oil is antiviral