‘Do you ever have déjà vu, Mrs Lancaster?’ Bill Murray asks his innkeeper in the 1993 fantasy comedy movie Groundhog Day. ‘I don’t think so,’ she replies, ‘but I could check with the kitchen.’
It’s Groundhog Day in Australia and Victorian Premier ‘Wuhan Dan’ Andrews has bungled his way through another week. After a series of unfortunate events worthy of Lemony Snicket, there are now more than 1,800 active Covid cases in Victoria. Almost all of these will recover – only three Australians under 60 have died of Covid-19 in the last six months – but that hasn’t deterred Lockdown Dan from locking up more than five million Melburnians again. It costs lots of dollars but makes no sense.
By now it should be obvious that we are just going to have to learn to live with our unwelcome Chinese visitor and that we we don’t need lockdowns, we just need rigorous quarantine and much better protection of hospitals and residents in aged care. For the 86 people infected in 20 aged care facilities across Victoria, particularly the 35 residents, Dan’s debacle is a life and death disaster.
Yet it needn’t be. Early treatment with hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) HCQ + azithromycin (AZ) + zinc (Zn), could reduce the fatality rate to as little as 0.5 per cent. The efficacy of HCQ has been demonstrated in 54 studies (33 peer-reviewed) around the world including in the US, France, South Korea, Spain, Italy and India, for pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis and for early and late use. Yet Australia remains frozen in time, neither accepting the studies nor making progress on its own. Despite over 10,000 cases of Covid-19 and 108 deaths, not a single patient has been enrolled in the Australian trial of HCQ.
This is where it would be nice to be able to call on the World Health Organisation. After all, Australia contributes more than $60 million to its coffers each year and is the 8th largest donor.
What have we got for our money? On 14 January, the WHO told us there was no human-to-human transmission of Covid-19. On 4 February, it told us we should not close our borders to China. On 17 February it was ‘extremely cautious using term pandemic.’ And when it comes to medication, Dr WHO has not taken the Hippocratic oath – primum non nocere –first do no harm. Rather, in designing its ‘Solidarity’ trials of HCQ, it has become Dr Death, darkly inspired by Paracelsus, the Swiss physician of the Renaissance, who warned, ‘Solely the dose determines that a thing is not a poison.’
Remember when a couple in Arizona overdosed on fish-tank cleaner and it was all President Trump’s fault for touting hydroxychloroquine (HCQ)? The story made headlines around the world. The little reported follow-up was that the woman was a Democrat donor who hated Trump, she was previously charged with assaulting her husband, and friends told homicide detectives that they feared she had poisoned him.
In June, the coroner found the poor man had ingested 20 times the typical treatment dose and the detective investigating his death said she would find that it was accidental unless she came across further evidence. Unfortunately, he’s not the only person that has been overdosed by someone he should have been able to trust.
The WHO’s Solidarity trial used the highest dose of HCQ ever proposed for any purpose, a dose which it should know is toxic. Why? Because WHO wrote the book on chloroquine toxicity or at least commissioned it, back in 1979 when it was still committed to saving lives.
Based on that study by H. Weniger, the WHO and the UK Recovery trials both used a dose that would be toxic or lethal for most patients. The Canadian and Norwegian Solidarity trials used almost as much. David Jayne, professor of clinical autoimmunity at Cambridge University, told the British Medical Journal that he feared that toxic doses of HCQ may have contributed to the adverse outcomes in the trial making the results unreliable.
The Recovery Trial even included doses for babies that were nearly four times the recommended maximum. Of 1542 patients, 396 died; a mortality rate of 25 per cent, 50 times higher than Professor Raoult’s successful trial of HCQ + AZM + Zn of 3,737 patients in which only seven people died in the treatment arm.
Of course, the Recovery patients were much more sick, but that is the point; people should not be denied treatment, as they were in the UK, to ’save the National Health System,’ from being overwhelmed, any more than one would wait until a patient had Stage IV cancer before treating them.
As of 1 July, 2020, nearly 5,500 patients had been recruited into the Solidarity trials in 21 countries and mercifully on 4 July, the WHO halted the toxic HCQ arm. No data has been released. Meanwhile, in a bizarre tale of two drugs, the WHO is still testing Remdesivir (RDV), the dud drug which has never reduced mortality in any trial and yet has been championed by Dr Anthony Fauci, the head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
NIAID has still not released the final mortality data from the trial it concluded in April and despite being run by NIAID, one of the trial investigators was a Gilead employee and six other authors declared financial ties to Gilead, making it impossible to treat this study as independent from the pharmaceutical company which will benefit to the tune of billions if it can persuade people the drug is worth taking.
Yet in a Chinese study, 66 per cent of patients experienced serious adverse events and in a study just published on the first five patients to be treated with RDV in France, the treatment had to be stopped for four out of the five due to adverse events, including two cases of renal failure.
This dubious drug has just been approved for use in Australia and will probably be given to the unfortunate elderly people in Victoria’s aged care facilities at $3,400 a treatment, courtesy of the taxpayer. On its track record it will not save a single life, anymore than Andrew’s misguided lockdown.
In Groundhog Day, Murray is trapped in an endless loop until he genuinely cares about the people around him. If we genuinely care about the sick and the elderly we won’t pay another razoo to the WHO until they get rid of Red Ted Ghebreyesus, the mad Marxist overseeing the overdosing, and start following the evidence and using drugs in doses that work.
Maybe then we can stop having the worst day of our lives, over and over again.
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