I’ve been noticing this watching John Bel Edwards’ hyper-repetitive press conferences, during which the emphasis seems solely on attempting to demoralize the people of Louisiana about how many of us are contracting COVID-19 and shaming us into wearing masks to supposedly prevent the spread of the virus.
But while Edwards’ approach to COVID-19 is, as Jeff Sadow noted earlier today, utterly ridiculous and devoid of scientific basis, he isn’t alone. There are an awful lot of governors, an even greater number of mayors, and even too many federal officials whose approach to the virus is based in stopping its spread rather than treating it successfully and returning patients to health.
And this is tragically stupid. Almost suspiciously tragically stupid. It renders as ridiculous any possible trust the public should have in our leadership, from the local level all the way up.
Talk to virtually anyone on the street and you will get, more often than not, a suspicion if not a conviction that by November 4, the day after the presidential election, you’ll never hear a word about COVID-19 again. While I don’t believe that, I do believe that widespread opinion is based on a reasonable reading of the media hype around the virus.
This is, after all, an eminently treatable infection. The CDC has settled on an infection fatality rate for COVID-19 of 0.26 percent. As mass testing has ramped up all over America and positive cases mount, the death totals have barely moved. If you’re not suffering from rather severe risk factors like diabetes, hypertension, morbid obesity and so forth, you almost assuredly aren’t going to die from COVID-19, and there are medications which will greatly reduce your suffering from it particularly if you start treatment early.
Because doctors in the field have figured out how to treat the virus. They’ve figured it out despite an unforgivable amount of politicized mendacity in the media, some of which has even come from public health bureaucrats.
There is a professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health named Harvey A. Risch, and he just published an op-ed at Newsweek making clear something which has been fairly obvious all along to those resistant to politicized media spin…
I am usually accustomed to advocating for positions within the mainstream of medicine, so have been flummoxed to find that, in the midst of a crisis, I am fighting for a treatment that the data fully support but which, for reasons having nothing to do with a correct understanding of the science, has been pushed to the sidelines. As a result, tens of thousands of patients with COVID-19 are dying unnecessarily. Fortunately, the situation can be reversed easily and quickly.
I am referring, of course, to the medication hydroxychloroquine. When this inexpensive oral medication is given very early in the course of illness, before the virus has had time to multiply beyond control, it has shown to be highly effective, especially when given in combination with the antibiotics azithromycin or doxycycline and the nutritional supplement zinc.
On May 27, I published an article in the American Journal of Epidemiology (AJE) entitled, “Early Outpatient Treatment of Symptomatic, High-Risk COVID-19 Patients that Should be Ramped-Up Immediately as Key to the Pandemic Crisis.” That article, published in the world’s leading epidemiology journal, analyzed five studies, demonstrating clear-cut and significant benefits to treated patients, plus other very large studies that showed the medication safety.
Physicians who have been using these medications in the face of widespread skepticism have been truly heroic. They have done what the science shows is best for their patients, often at great personal risk. I myself know of two doctors who have saved the lives of hundreds of patients with these medications, but are now fighting state medical boards to save their licenses and reputations. The cases against them are completely without scientific merit.
Since publication of my May 27 article, seven more studies have demonstrated similar benefit. In a lengthy follow-up letter, also published by AJE, I discuss these seven studies and renew my call for the immediate early use of hydroxychloroquine in high-risk patients. These seven studies include: an additional 400 high-risk patients treated by Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, with zero deaths; four studies totaling almost 500 high-risk patients treated in nursing homes and clinics across the U.S., with no deaths; a controlled trial of more than 700 high-risk patients in Brazil, with significantly reduced risk of hospitalization and two deaths among 334 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine; and another study of 398 matched patients in France, also with significantly reduced hospitalization risk. Since my letter was published, even more doctors have reported to me their completely successful use.
My original article in the AJE is available free online, and I encourage readers—especially physicians, nurses, physician assistants and associates, and respiratory therapists—to search the title and read it. My follow-up letter is linked there to the original paper.
Risch goes on to note that in Para, a state in northern Brazil, COVID-19 had begun to run rampant. In response, the local public hospital network bought 75,000 doses of azithromycin and 90,000 doses of HCQ and began administering them with zinc, and over six weeks or so they cut the death rate there by seven-eighths. Conversely, in Switzerland, the national government became bamboozled by the negative press about HCQ and banned its use in outpatient settings on May 27. Within three weeks the COVID-19 death rate there spiked to a fourfold increase; by June 11 they’d revoked the ban, and by June 23 the spike was over.
It’s treatable. It’s inexpensively treatable. For $20 or $25 you can get a five-day course of HCQ, azithromycin and zinc that will almost assuredly kill this thing off and return you to full health; that’s a number which really ought to tamp this thing down into something normal folks can handle without hysteria as we return to normal life.
Returning to normal life should be the mission of every elected official in America. It’s implicit in their oath of office. And since it’s obvious that stopping the spread of the virus is beyond their power, as they’ve proven conclusively since March and as has always been the case given that it’s a coronavirus and coronaviruses always spread everywhere, the emphasis really ought to be on how to successfully treat people who have contracted it so they can go back to work and enjoy life.
We as Americans have been exceedingly patient and very polite as we have watched our leaders flail about incompetently in the face of this pandemic. We have tolerated their bait-and-switch proclamations and misguided attempts to buffalo us into stopping the spread of something that can’t be stopped, at a level that really they haven’t deserved from us.
It’s time for that to be over. It’s time to demand the truth from our leaders: that they don’t have an answer for stopping the spread of COVID-19, but that there is an answer for treating and curing it – and that their politicized objections to the treatment have prolonged a media-driven hysteria which has done real damage to real people.
There ought to be pretty severe consequences to what they’ve done, but those can come later. What’s most important now is to at least get that admission, even if our polite response to being treated like children has to end.
Enough already. For every other disease in the world the emphasis is on a cure, and for this one the emphasis is on our inconvenience. It’s time to stop it.