A Tale of Two COVID Treatments
COVID-19 is a nasty virus, damaging or killing the unfortunate few who caught it and became extremely ill. Preferring the elderly and those with preexisting medical conditions, many died or had their lives and families upended.
Far more have been ravaged by the downstream effects of the Wuhan virus - socioeconomic destruction following the economic shutdown which persists to this day in many locales as well as delayed or deferred medical care from a several month-long ban on elective medical care.
Deaths and hospital resource use peaked in mid-April nationally, with occasional local resurgences, generally mild and short-lived, yet in September many schools remain closed, large gatherings prohibited, businesses shuttered, and masks remain the fall season’s fashion accessory.
There are only a few ways out of this quagmire. Herd immunity has been the traditional endpoint for past viral pandemics as it occurs relatively quickly. Sweden has likely achieved herd immunity without shutting down as did their neighbors.
Israeli Professor Isaac Ben-Israel used statistical analysis demonstrating, “The spread of COVID-19 peaks after about 40 days and declines to almost zero after 70 days — no matter where it strikes, and no matter what measures governments impose to try to thwart it.”
Other options include therapeutics or a vaccine. Viruses are notoriously difficult to cure with medications. Vaccines provide varying degrees of protection against viruses but take many months or years to develop and earn FDA approval.
Short term, therapeutics are the best option aside from waiting for the virus to burn itself out as in past pandemics. Two such medications have been in the news as potential treatments. Yet they have been treated far differently by the media and medical establishment.
Hydroxychloroquine was first FDA-approved in 1955 to prevent malaria and subsequently to treat immune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. It is generally well tolerated, many patients taking it for years, unlike the week or two recommended for early outpatient COVID treatment.
YouTube screen grab
Cable news cranks like Fox’s Neil Cavuto claim, “It will kill you.” Not that it “might,” but it “will.” Jumping off a tall building will kill you. Jumping off a low step might kill you if you land wrong and hit your head. Water might kill you if you drink too much. Many bad things “might” happen without Mr. Cavuto’s certainty of what “will” happen.
The primary risk with hydroxy is for those with a particular EKG abnormality affecting 1 in 2,500 individuals, easily screened for. Those odds are lower than the risk of dying in a house fire or drowning.
Yet because President Trump called hydroxy a potential “game changer,” big medicine and the media dug in their heels, constantly condemning the drug. Trump added, “What do you have to lose?” recommending the patient and their doctor make an informed choice about using it when faced with no other good options.
There is far more evidence of the benefits of hydroxy, compared to say the benefits of Green New Deal measures altering the climate. According to a detailed review published in Real Clear Politics,
There are now 53 studies that show positive results of hydroxychloroquine in COVID infections. There are 14 global studies that show neutral or negative results -- and 10 of them were of patients in very late stages of COVID-19, where no antiviral drug can be expected to have much effect. Of the remaining four studies, two come from the same University of Minnesota author. The other two are from the faulty Brazil paper, which should be retracted, and the fake Lancet paper, which was.
Countries utilizing hydroxy had far lower COVID death rates compared to countries that relied on Fauci-care, not using, or outright banning hydroxy. Yet to this day in America, hydroxy is viewed as a weapon of mass destruction.
Compare the reaction to another class of drug, corticosteroids. Oral prednisolone (commonly known as prednisone) was FDA-approved in 1955, the same year as hydroxy. The side effects are far more numerous than that of hydroxy, including susceptibility to infection, elevated blood pressure, electrolyte imbalances, gastrointestinal perforation, mood disturbances, diabetes, reduced bone density, cataracts, glaucoma and stunted growth in children.
I would much rather take hydroxy than prednisone if told to take it for months or years, which is why an entire class of biologic immunosuppressive agents now exist to replace long term steroid therapy.
In a meta-analysis recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Administration of systemic corticosteroids, compared with usual care or placebo, was associated with lower 28-day all-cause mortality in critically ill patients with COVID-19.” In these very sick patients, prednisone’s cousins were used – dexamethasone, hydrocortisone, or methylprednisolone, and lives were saved.
The media response was muted, reporting the benefits, but none of the hair-on-fire hysteria we saw with hydroxy. Why the difference? President Trump didn’t talk about steroids.
Here are two 65-year-old prescription medications taken by millions of individuals over the years, with known side effect profiles, one far safer for long term use, hydroxy. Both may have a therapeutic role in COVID, hydroxy earlier in the disease course, before the hospital, with steroids for critically ill patients already in the hospital or ICU.
This is a double header, two readily available medicines to treat both early and late COVID. Rather than rejoicing, the media and medical establishment focuses their rage on only one medicine, the one Trump praised.
Is it about helping sick individuals or influencing the upcoming election? A similar approach to vaccines confirms the answer. Trump also praised vaccines, hinting that one might be available in October. Right on cue, vaccines are now as bad as hydroxy. The Democrat undynamic duo of Harris and Biden are throwing water on a vaccine this year simply because Trump said it is possible.
CNN confirms an anti-vaccine bias simply because Orange Man Bad. Just last month CNN lamented, “As anti-vaxxers spread lies on social media about coronavirus vaccine.” Less than a month later they claim Trump is “delusional” for suggesting a vaccine may be imminent.
Those who criticize anti-vaxxers are now anti-vaxxers themselves, only to get on the opposite side of the issue as President Trump and virtue signal their resistance. This is exactly how they treat hydroxy compared to steroids on the therapeutic front.
It’s a sad tale of two potential treatments treated so differently simply to oppose President Trump. If he said breathing is beneficial, Democrats and the media would hold their breaths to prove him wrong.
Has this ever been about the virus? Or only the election and defeating Trump? How many Americans have been denied potentially lifesaving treatment by the medical establishment just to hurt Trump and influence an election? This is a shameful crime against humanity, motivated purely by politics.
Brian C. Joondeph, M.D., is a Denver-based physician and freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in American Thinker, Daily Caller, Rasmussen Reports, and other publications. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Parler, and QuodVerum.