COVID Care Fiasco: The Hill-Lawrie Video

Let me tell a story. It details probably the most important event in the suppression of the drug Ivermectin for treatment of COVID-19 a medication that had the potential to have saved many lives.

Dr. Teresa Lawrie is an M.D., and the leader of the Evidence-Based Medicine Consultancy in Bath, UK. Her incredibly tedious job is to statistically evaluate medical studies and provide data to the National Health Service so that clinicians can decide on therapy guidelines. In Britain, she is been referred to as “the conscience of medicine.”

Andrew Hill M.D., Ph.D. is a virologist and from his bio, a senior visiting Research Fellow in the Pharmacology Department at Liverpool University. He is considered an expert on therapy for HIV/AIDS. He is also a consultant to the World Health Organization. He is considered a very powerful voice who can influence medical practice worldwide.

UNITAID is a not-for-profit organization whose website states that it “connects innovators who develop better health products with people who need them the most.” It is been heavily funded by the Gates Foundation.

Apparently, in late 2020, studies began to accumulate looking at the potential of the drug Ivermectin in the treatment of SARS Co-V2. This antiparasitic agent was also known to have antiviral properties. This attracted the attention of both the WHO and Dr. Lawrie’s organization. The WHO contracted with Dr. Hill to evaluate the data, and independently, the Evidence-Based Medicine Consultancy took on the same task. This involved performing a meta-analysis. This is a process where studies on a topic are collected and are analyzed for their quality. This includes how rigorous was the method, and the potential for bias. The best studies are pooled and the results analyzed. There are very well-established protocols for this.

Both Dr. Hill and Dr. Lawrie completed separate analyses and the results for both were exciting. There seemed to be a real benefit to using Ivermectin as a treatment for COVID. Both concluded that the reduction in deaths could be as much as 60 to 85%. Both were comfortable with the quality of their results.  According to Dr. Lawrie, they compared notes and together pledged to push hard for the rapid approval of the drug, given the prevailing pandemic.

In January 2021 Dr. Hill was among the scientists who testified in support of Ivermectin the NIH’s COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel. Subsequently, the NIH changed its recommendation from against the use, to neither for or against the use, the same designation given to convalescent plasma and monoclonal antibodies, both of which have been subsequently used for COVID. Ivermectin continues to carry that recommendation on the current NIH website.

Then something odd happened. Dr. Hill finally released a preprint of his meta-analysis, with all of his data. But the conclusion of the paper questioned the quality of the data and called for more research. This was obviously an opinion severely at odds with his previous stance. Many people, were taken completely by surprise, most prominently Dr. Lawrie. She arranged for a meeting via Zoom. Here is a link to a documentary that describes these events, and includes a video of the actual meeting. It is completely infuriating.

During the meeting, Dr. Hill admits that people from UNITAID had input on his conclusions. You can observe his demeanor and draw your own conclusions.

Dr. Hill’s promise of continued support never materialized. In fact, he ended up withdrawing his meta-analysis due to accusations that one of the included studies was fraudulent. To my knowledge, that has never been proven. Interestingly, because Dr. Lawrie’s paper included more studies, she was able to remove that same questionable data without affecting the outcome significantly.

Another interesting fact: shortly after all this, Dr. Hill’s parent organization, Liverpool University, received a $40 million grant… from UNITAID. This was to set up the “Centre of Excellence for Long-acting Therapeutics” which would appear to be part of Dr. Hill’s department of Pharmacology. Coincidence?

As Dr. Lawrie notes in the documentary, over the intervening year, there have been many more studies on Ivermectin as well as striking observational data supporting the drug’s efficacy. Yet despite the NIH’s “neither for nor against” position, the drug has become essentially unavailable in the United States, and physicians have been disciplined for its use.

In the meantime, based on one company-sponsored study each, two expensive new drugs, Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s Molnupivinir, were quickly granted emergency use authorization and are becoming readily available. I for one, am glad of this. Paxlovid in particular may save lives. There is no safety data, however for either, unlike Ivermectin, which has been literally given to billions of people and has been proven to be extremely safe.

I have no passion for the drug Ivermectin. I certainly do not have any financial ties involving the medication. That, I think, is the problem, because essentially no one does. This is likely why there have been no well-funded large studies. And if Ivermectin is indeed efficacious, it would threaten the profits made on vaccines, and now on the new antiviral medications. As I approach the end of my career, the thought that a promising treatment for COVID-19 has been actively discouraged is very troubling to this physician. It makes me wonder what other cheap and effective off-patent therapies have been similarly suppressed.

Henry F Smith Jr, M.D. FCCP is a pulmonary and sleep physician practicing in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

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