Bureaucrats and academia are ignoring real-world evidence that early at-home treatment using hydroxychloroquine and other approved drugs reduces COVID-19 hospitalization and death, stated physicians before a U.S. Senate panel.
The near two-and-a-half-hour hearing on November 19 was held before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Physicians who have been on the front lines treating the disease and who have reviewed data from numerous observational studies ton thousands of COVID-19 patients from around the world, testified early intervention with “cocktails” of vitamins, mineral supplements, and existing prescription drugs appear to stop the SARS CoV2 virus from replicating. The witnesses testified it is the replication of the virus that leads to COVID-19’s most severe complications. The physicians have published their work in medical journals and on peer-to-peer platforms.
Additionally, Chairman Ron Johnson (R – Wisconsin) and witness, Peter McCullough, M.D., M.P.H., have recovered from COVID-19 using the early at-home intervention. Both men stated they were back to normal life within 10 days.
While the hearing, entitled “Early Outpatient Treatment: An Essential Part of a COVID-19 Solution,” was the first to explore the topic, six of the 14 senators on the committee did not participate. They included Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-Arizona), Sen. Kamala Harris (D – California), Sen. Rick Scott (R – Florida), Sen. Rand Paul (R – Kentucky), Sen. Rob Portman (R – Ohio), Sen. Mitt Romney (R – Utah).
Sen. Johnson presented three witnesses: McCullough, a cardiologist and vice chief of internal medicine at Baylor University Medical Center, Harvey Risch, M.D. Ph.D., a professor of epidemiology at Yale University, and George Fareed, M.D., a family medicine specialist, and medical director at Pioneers Medical Center in California. Ranking Minority Member, Sen. Gary Peters (D-Michigan) invited Ashish Jha, M.D., M.P.H., the dean of the school of public health at Brown University, who testified that he has not treated any patients for COVID-19.
Here are key highlights from the hearing:
- Johnson stated he has long been interested in letting “doctors be doctors” since his daughter, 37 years ago, survived a congenital heart defect. “We had a wonderful result because we had access to doctors and treatments produced by previous doctors who practiced medicine. I don’t think there was a randomized control trial of ‘balloon septostomy,” or ‘Schumacher re-baffling technique.’ These were skilled physicians practicing medicine. President Trump signed Johnson’s “Right to Try” bill into law, May 18, 2018.
- McCullough stated, “we face public panic, hospital over-runs, and significantly higher mortality in the months to come.” In his testimony, McCullough described how he led a team of U.S. and Italian physicians to design an early treatment protocol that was published on August 7 in the American Journal of Medicine. Regulatory barriers, and guidance from the National Institutes of Health, have blocked physicians from treating patients early. NIH Guidelines allow patients to “sicken at home for two weeks or more, and when finally gasping and choking for air, place them in hospital isolation.”
- Risch testified that health agencies have failed to recognize the early stages of COVID-19 must be treated differently than when the virus replicates. “Our government research institutions have invested billions of dollars in expensive patent medication and vaccine development but also nothing in early outpatient treatment.” The emphasis on “evidentiary evidence” of the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in the early stage of the disease is misguided in a world with new tools to evaluate real-world, observational data, which he says overwhelming favors HCQ as an effective weapon for keeping patients from getting sicker. Risch described seven studies, now, of nearly 10,000 patients that show how HCQ has reduced hospitalization or death by 50 percent.
- Fareed, a Harvard trained physician, and specialist in virology, stated his organization has treated over 2,400 COVID patients in California’s Imperial Valley, the epicenter of COVID-19 in the state in June and July. His “cocktail”’ of HCQ, azithromycin or doxycycline, zinc, and sometimes corticosteroids helped keep 31 elderly nursing home patients alive. “I have not seen a single negative cardiac event and a few other side effects, despite what we hear in the media.”
- Jha discussed the merits of hospital-based therapeutics, such as Remdesivir, and stated HCQ “provides no benefits in treating COVID-19 and may produce significant harms.” Jha stated there was a “93 percent increase in HCQ and Chloroquine exposures reported to U.S. Poison Centers” from the previous year, which McCullough pointed out later, amounted to 77 additional calls, of which 17 involved an improper dose of the drug. “I think Dr. Jha’s testimony is reckless and dangerous for the nation,” said McCullough.
- Carper, Hassen, Rosen, Peters discussed vaccine mandates, cybersecurity, masks, food insecurity, “disinformation,” President Trump, and Thanksgiving celebrations, to which McCullough responded. “This entire hearing was about early treatment and what that last set of exchanges showed was a complete lack of focus and one reason why American is failing colossally from this pandemic,” said McCullough.
- McCullough stated there has not been just government culpability with the effort to discredit HCQ and early intervention, but malfeasance at the academic level. McCullough told the committee about the two HCQ peer-reviewed studies retracted by The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine because the authors could not verify the data. “These were scare papers,” said McCullough. “Academic medicine is committing fraud, a crime against humanity. There must be a motivation behind this that is much bigger than Democrat versus Republican.”
- McCullough and Risch pointed out that HCQ is the first line of defense for COVID-19 in India. Editor’s note: India has the second-largest number of cases of COVID in the world, behind the U.S.,(13,003,813 vs. 9,257,945 as of November 15) according to Worldometer, but death per million from COVID are eight times higher in the U.S. (803 vs. 98).
- Jha used the word “conspiracy” to describe accusations that government agencies and academia were trying to suppress HCQ. “I never used that word,” said Johnson.
- The testimony stated physicians in France and Australia are being prosecuted for prescribing HCQ to COVID -19 patients. Johnson stated a U.S. physician who prescribed HCQ received a grand jury subpoena, but it was withdrawn after Johnson raised questions.
- Johnson stated the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has shown no interest in conducting a randomized, controlled trial on early HCQ treatment for COVID-19. “The risk and reward, the observational success should be compelling enough. Millions of Americans cannot get access to this drug because of the scaremongering and the prescription log jam created by bureaucrats.”
AnneMarie Schieber (firstname.lastname@example.org) is managing editor of Health Care News.
“Early Outpatient Treatment: An Essential Part of a COVID-19 Solution,” U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs,” November 19, 2020: https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/hearings/early-outpatient-treatment-an-essential-part-of-a-covid-19-solution