by Phil Erwin
If you have been listening to the news at all, you may have heard about the drug “hydroxychloroquine.” It’s now mentioned in daily news briefings from the White House and elsewhere. There are definite indications this could be an important weapon against the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s been under medical/scientific study long enough for some useful details to slip out. But news coverage of science-related topics often results in incomplete, conflicting and misleading details floating around, and making sense of it all can be a challenge.
Here’s a run-down of the truth, as best I can glean it and put it together in somewhat useful form:
(Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, just have enough science background to be able to interpret the jargon)
- The drug in question is “hydroxychloroquine,” sometimes called “chloroquine.” (Two formulations. Same drug.)
- It has been used for decades both to treat malaria, and to ward off catching malaria. (Docs call this “prophylactic” use. Nothing to do with rubber. I don’t know why they can’t just call it “preventative.”) It’s considered both effective and safe.
- It has also been used to treat certain autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Again, wide use has proven it at least somewhat effective, and safe.
- The way the coronavirus attacks the body is much like an autoimmune disease. So some doctors wondered whether chloroquine might help. They tried it. It helped.
- They also recognized that the coronavirus led very quickly to pneumonia-like symptoms. Pneumonia is a bacterial infection, treated with antibiotics, which have no effect on viruses.
- So some docs decided to try both drugs at the same time – the chloroquine to counter the coronavirus, and a commonly-used “broad-spectrum” antibiotic called azithromycin (a.k.a. “z-pak”) to counteract the pneumonia-like secondary infection.
- It appears very likely that this combination of drugs is extremely effective, provided the patient gets the drugs in time (before their lungs are destroyed and their organs are shutting down.)
- In the daily briefings, our leading pandemic doctors, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, have addressed this topic with some, we might say, caution. (We might also say, equivocation.) That’s because these people are dyed-in-the-wool scientists. They understand the difference between knowing something works, and thinking something maybe works. And they have learned to avoid saying “I know” or “I believe” or “I am certain” regarding the efficacy of a drug or treatment until it’s been studied, in a very carefully-controlled way, and proven effective to a statistical certainty.They never say “it works” until “randomized double-blind studies” have shown it works, preferably at least 90+% of the time. That way, nobody will sue ’em if it doesn’t work but causes some other problem.
- We have been hearing individual testimonial evidence (meaning, based on personal experience) that this drug combination is a powerful weapon against this virus. “Miraculous”, “It saved my life”, “I felt better almost immediately” are the kinds of testimonial evidence we’re hearing. Doctors call such evidence “promising.” Ya think?? They also call it “anecdotal,” which in their language means “It won’t shield me from lawsuits if I follow it and someone dies.”
- A randomized, double-blind study is a powerful research tool. It helps make clear, not just whether something works, but how well/dependably/universally it works. (It also supplies that much-desired lawsuit shield.) But it does not invalidate common sense. Scientists sometimes forget that. Common sense would suggest that such testimonials as we’re hearing about chloroquine are way beyond merely “promising.”
- Trump looked at the evidence, listened to his doctors and scientists, and made the common-sense decision to make the drugs available NOW!! to New York. Dr. Fauci is collecting all the data he can to accomplish what is a rushed version of the vaunted “scientific study.” (It won’t meet the highest standards, but it’ll be close enough that Drs. Fauci and Birx can stop equivocating.)
So. Barely two or three days after Trump’s order sent chloroquine to New York, another highly-respected Infectious Disease Specialist named Dr. Stephen Smith stepped past the typical scientist’s equivocation boundary to tell you what his common sense is telling him. Here is what he said to Laura Ingraham on her FOX News show, The Ingraham Angle:
Dr. Smith: “This data really supports the French data… saying that this regimen WORKS!”
and… ”It’s a game-changer, Laura! I think this is the beginning of the end of the pandemic!!
Dr. Smith also thinks that what predisposes someone to a serious illness from the coronavirus is not advanced age, so much as a diabetic or pre-diabetic condition, especially if compounded by a high Body Mass Index – in other words, obesity.
The “French data” Dr. Smith refers to is not a “scientific” study, just results released on-the-fly by a French Dr. Didier Raoult, who decided to try the chloroquine/z-pak combo when his patients started dying right and left. The French doctor saw nearly a 100% benefit with very rapid improvement. Of 80 and more patients, he’s lost only one, an elderly, health-compromised person too far gone when the drugs were administered.
Here are two other links to discussions of these studies:
The French study size was small, and there was no blind “control group” – a detail considered imperative by the study-police in order to call the study “double-blind” and the result therefore “scientific” – so nobody wanted to admit that it might actually portend the clouds parting and the bluebirds singing somewhere over the rainbow.
I understand the scientific value of a control group. But when the world is disintegrating and you see virtually 100% improvement in more than one study, what ELSE do you need to know?!?? (I hear Sleepy Joe intoning, “C’mon, Man!!!”)
A week ago, the New York Times pointedly informed us that “No, These Medicines Cannot Cure Coronavirus” (March 25 headline.) But now they’re reporting that, “Cough, fever and pneumonia went away faster…” with these drugs. The difference? It’s a study in China delivering the same results Drs. Raoult and Smith have reported. Apparently, if it comes from China, the New York Times considers it trustworthy???
Some doctors, both here and elsewhere – including China – aren’t waiting for the “scientific” results. They have common sense, too. They’ve been taking chloroquine on their own. You know – prophylactically. Just in case it helps.
They didn’t wait for the New York Times to tell ’em what to do.
We’re hearing of several vaccines and treatments that seem very promising. These are being fast-tracked, and expectations are that we’ll have something available in a few months.
Hunhh?? Months?!?? C’mon, Man!!!
Seems to me we’ve got enough “data” to stop the equivocating. (I suspect Trump sees it that way, too.)
Time to flood every hospital, clinic and field hospital with chloroquine and z-pak, NOW!!
We have lives to save. And an economy to rescue.
These two drugs have been used for decades, with nobody dying from them. We have every reason now to think they’re really, really effective, in combination, to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The worst side-effects we can expect might be a little diarrhea.
No prob. Gives people something to do with all the toilet paper they’ve been hoarding.
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Phil Erwin is an author, IT administrator and registered Independent living in Newbury Park. He would like to support some Democrat ideals, but he has a visceral hatred for Lies and Damn Lies (and is highly suspicious of Statistics.) That pretty much eliminates supporting most Democrats, and a bunch of Republicans to boot.