Herbalist Community Support Project for COVID-19

A few days before Chinese new year, my high-school friend circle out-bursted with the the-called "Wuhan virus" news. I was born in Wuhan but only spent 8 years of adolescent years in the city. Most of my software career years till 2013 were in Silicon Valley, followed by transition into Chinese medicine.

From January to mid-March, the fight was from helping Chinese patients remotely to alarmingly rising concerns in US. Until our clinics closed door after shelter-in-place for California on 3/17. Another month passed, US diagnosed has risen to 600K+, way more than any other country in the world. Our clinic has been mailing herbs to patients all over the US, especially New York (local herbs are often sold out). The usual 3-6 days herbs mailed mostly take effect on the first day. Overall we observed the benefits of reducing fever and coughing, restoring digestive functions and improving sleeping.

At this time of crisis, information flow is important, where can you get tested, get protective supplies, what treatment works, etc. I believe a lot of people are working on these and make community aid happening faster and faster. But in terms of where to get help for herbal treatment support, I don't know any site support recording the case studies and formula used for sharing.

The second day after I was freed of clinic duty, I asked around my friend circle to find temporary help to build a site, one old schoolmate from Shanghai, one developer in Beijing, a few others in Silicon Valley. All worked on this project out of regular job hours, day and night on weekends. My daughter helped design icons, pack the herbal tea we are selling. Along the way, we got approved by Twilio.org for SMS support for non-profit COVID access program. Very grateful. Then I posted on freelancer and Upwork to find more help.

Amazingly, a good number of developers from all over the globe responded. I remember talked to quite a few Indian, Vietnam, Russian, and US developers. A mirad of web technologies were discussed and ready to be explored. Under time and resource pressure, finally an experienced web development team took the job to build a MVP in 2 weeks. Very very exciting!  

China spent 2 months to quarantine and treat 83K COVID patients, down to double digits in mid-April. According to official reports, 80-90% patients have used herbal treatment, which lowered the rate sending to ICU. As a direct result of that giant demand increase in mainland China, the herbs price doubled and herbs exporting is restricted. From February, California importers seeing a surge in orders from US practitioners as well, some critical frequently used herbs are running out on top of price increase. Overall the herbs price is historically high, due to last years 25% tariff increase. 

How US healthcare system fight COVID effectively is still happening too slowly (peak number maybe about a million). Chinese medicine practitioners (Acupuncturists in US) are a minor workforce in US healthcare system. We never really have a voice in mainstream media. especially the small percentage of practitioners who have the knowledge to treat COVID and own a physical herbal pharmacy. Health insurance covers acupuncture on a small scale but zero on herbs. On top of this difficulty, general public do not know the efface of Chinese herbs. Yes, it need to be cooked, and taste bitter in decoction form not pills. At time to save lives, that is not a concern. One of my friends sends me a link today:

Fighting it the Chinese way 

China backs unproven treatments for covid-19

How many people reads the Economist? Sigh.

This site we are building will let people self-admin, self-test at home, with herbalist practitioners remote support. Hope I can say with confidence not far from now: All is Well!

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