Ever since President Trump expressed optimism about the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, the mere mention of that drug can elicit instantaneous, strident, and finger-wagging condemnation by the mainstream media and all those who are pulling for the pandemic to lay waste to the economy and pave the way for a fundamental progressive transformation of America. Despite its use by health-care providers across the country and around the world to successfully treat COVID-19, you will be mocked as either a fool or a snake oil salesman if you approvingly utter the word “hydroxychloroquine” or even express hope that it can be used to save lives. The word is simply not to be tolerated in polite, progressive society.
Well, it appears that the list of forbidden words is about to get longer. The new additions include “corticosteroids” and “Methylprednisolone.”
What do these widely available and relatively inexpensive drugs with known safety profiles have in common with hydroxychloroquine? Leading physicians are using them in addition to hydroxychloroquine to successfully treat COVID-19. And they are doing so without waiting two or three years for the results of randomized clinical trials.
On April 6, 2020, the aptly named “Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Consortium” issued a bulletin urging the “immediate adoption of [an] early intervention protocol to prevent mortality and reduce the use of ventilators from COVID-19 disease.” The consortium consists of leading critical care specialists from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health, the University of Texas Health Science Center, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Manhattan’s Lenox Hill Hospital, the Eastern Virginia Medical School, and other equally distinguished medical schools and centers.
Based on the available research and “their decades-long professional experiences in Intensive Care Units around the country,” these experts “strongly urge fellow physicians to immediately adopt a change in strategy by delivering powerful [anti-inflammatory] therapies earlier in the [COVID-19] disease course, prior to admission to the ICU or the need for a mechanical ventilator.”
COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. So, is this new drug strategy calculated to eradicate the virus or reduce the patient’s viral load? Not at all, but, as these experts explain, that is quite beside the point.
One of the consortium members is Dr. Pierre Kory, the Medical Director of the Trauma and Life Support Center and Chief of the Critical Care Service at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. In the bulletin, he explains that “it is the severe inflammation sparked by the Coronavirus, not the virus itself, that kills patients. Inflammation causes a new variety of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), which damages the lungs.”
As spelled out in the consortium’s bulletin, the key to the new treatment strategy is the early and prompt use of hydroxychloroquine (which is also prescribed to reduce inflammation in lupus and rheumatoid arthritis patients) and/or corticosteroids such as Methylprednisolone to reduce the inflammation caused by the coronavirus.
On April 20, 2020, Dr. Paul Marik, Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the Eastern Virginia Medical School, published a Critical Care COVID-19 Management Protocol based on the consortium’s findings. In the protocol, he states the following:
Scientific Rational[e] for Treatment Protocol
Three core pathologic processes lead to multi-organ failure and death in COVID-19:
- Hyper-inflammation (“Cytokine storm”) – a dysregulated immune system whose cells infiltrate and damage multiple organs, namely the lungs, kidneys, and heart. It is now widely accepted that SARS-CoV-2 causes aberrant T lymphocyte activation resulting in a “cytokine storm.”
- Hyper-coagulability (increased clotting) – the dysregulated immune system damages the endothelium and activates blood clotting, causing the formation of micro and macro blood clots. These blood clots impair blood flow.
- Severe Hypoxemia (low blood oxygen levels) – lung inflammation caused by the cytokine storm, together with microthrombosis in the pulmonary circulation severely impairs oxygen absorption resulting in oxygenation failure.
The above pathologies are not novel, although the combined severity in COVID-19 disease is considerable. Our long-standing and more recent experiences show consistently successful treatment if traditional therapeutic principles of early and aggressive intervention is achieved, before the onset of advanced organ failure. It is our collective opinion that the historically high levels of morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 is due to a single factor: the widespread and inappropriate reluctance amongst intensivists [critical care physicians] to employ anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant treatments [blood thinners], including corticosteroid therapy early in the course of a patient’s hospitalization. It is essential to recognize that it is not the virus that is killing the patient, rather it is the patient’s overactive immune system. The flames of the “cytokine fire” are out of control and need to be extinguished. Providing supportive care (with ventilators that themselves stoke the fire) and waiting for the cytokine fire to burn itself out simply does not work… this approach has FAILED and has led to the death of tens of thousands of patients. (Emphasis added.)
Similarly, consortium member Dr. Umberto Meduri, Professor of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, advises that “There is no justification based on available evidence and professional ethics to categorically deny the use of corticosteroid [anti-inflammatory] treatment in the severe life-threatening ‘cytokine storm’ associated with COVID-19. Misinformation about the only anti-inflammatory treatment available for this ‘cytokine storm’ has resulted in COVID-19 patients dying from massive inflammation without receiving an effective and safe anti-inflammatory treatment. Mortality for ventilating patients is 50% — unacceptable.”
And Dr. Keith Berkowitz, a New York internist, adds, “Given the dire circumstances in New York State, with almost 122,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 4,159 deaths, it is imperative that every hospital immediately adopt this safe, low-cost and highly effective treatment protocol, but they must implement it BEFORE the ICU, not after they reach the ICU because, in this disease, the organ damage tends to be so severe that patients rarely recover at that point.” (Emphasis added.)
Obviously, these findings and the announcement of this new treatment protocol are great news for all of us who want lives to be saved and to see an end to the massively destructive lockdown of our nation. After all, isn’t the existence of an effective, widely available, scalable treatment with a known safety profile for COVID-19 a powerful argument for reopening America and ending government’s ongoing destruction of our lives, livelihoods, and the economy?
Of course it is, which is why you will never hear about these findings or strategy from the mainstream media and their progressive allies, who have a stake in prolonging the lockdown. Just as they have mocked hydroxychloroquine and banned any favorable mention of its use, you can anticipate that news of the consortium’s protocol or any other successful treatment available in the here and now — and arrived at without a lengthy delay for randomized clinical trials — will go down Orwell’s “memory hole.” Not only would such good news run counter to the prevailing progressive orthodoxy that the only responsible, “science-based” course is to keep America locked down, it would also vindicate President Trump’s expressed optimism about hydroxychloroquine — a clearly unacceptable outcome for our progressive betters.
But here’s a question: why weren’t physicians from the very onset of the pandemic using this or a similar strategy to treat the inflammation caused by SARS-CoV-2? As stated in Dr. Marik’s treatment protocol, the consortium provides this disturbing answer:
The systematic failure of critical care systems to adopt corticosteroid [anti-inflammatory] therapy resulted from the published recommendations against corticosteroids use by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Thoracic Society (ATS) amongst others. A very recent publication by the Society of Critical Care Medicine and authored [by] one of the members of our group (UM), identified the errors made by these organizations in their analyses of corticosteroid studies based on the findings of the SARS and H1N1 pandemics. Their erroneous recommendation to avoid corticosteroids in the treatment of COVID-19 has led to the development of myriad organ failures which have overwhelmed critical care systems across the world.
Our treatment protocol targeting these key pathologies has achieved near uniform success, if begun within 6 hours of a COVID19 patient presenting with shortness of breath or needing ≥ 4L/min of oxygen. If such early initiation of treatment could be systematically achieved, the need for mechanical ventilators and ICU beds will decrease dramatically. [Emphasis added.]
Got that? The World Health Organization, which authoritatively told us that there was no human-to-human transmission of the virus and which bitterly condemned President Trump’s China travel ban, and the CDC, which wasted precious weeks using the wrong test for SARS-CoV-2, recommended against using anti-inflammatory drugs to treat COVID-19. This failure and misinformation by these taxpayer-funded organizations are as infuriating as the Food and Drug Administration’s recent warning about hydroxychloroquine possibly causing irregular heartbeat in COVID-19 patients even though the FDA provides no similar warning for the millions of persons who take it for malarial prophylaxis or as an anti-inflammatory in the treatment of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Finally, are you ready for some real irony? Remember those tens of thousands of ventilators that Gov. Andrew Cuomo demanded that the federal government provide? The consortium strongly recommends that they be used only as an absolute last resort. Why? As Dr. Marik points out, “early intubation” will “cause the disease you are trying to prevent, i.e., ARDS [Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome].” Ventilators not only cause mechanical injury to the patient’s lungs and “stoke the cytokine fire,” but Dr. Howard Kornfeld, President of the Pharmacology Policy Institute, adds that “This protocol will not only save patients lives, it will also lessen the danger to the doctors and nurses who treat them by decreasing the need for mechanical ventilators.” In short, in addition to harming the patient, use of a ventilator also increases the medical staff’s risk of infection.
All that you have just read is the work product of highly qualified experts who are on the front lines every day successfully treating COVID-19. They are not living in ivory towers and pontificating from on high about the need for randomized clinical trials and the production of vaccines that are years away from being developed — if they ever will be. Theirs is a report from the trenches, and it is all positive, good news. It is also comprised of vital information that must be made public so that, hopefully, it will inform the debate as to when, if ever, America may be liberated from its suicidal, government-imposed imprisonment. Since we can’t count on the mainstream media to report these findings fully or fairly, I urge you to copy the consortium’s linked documents and share them with one and all, including your doctors.
I also urge you to have copies available to take with you to the hospital if, God forbid, you become infected. Keep in mind that the consortium strongly recommends that the administration of the hydroxychloroquine, Methylprednisolone, or whatever corticosteroid should promptly begin in the emergency room and continue throughout hospitalization. As noted by the consortium, there is resistance to using its anti-inflammatory strategy, and, for that reason, you must be ready to be your own best patient advocate.
So, as we used to say in the Boy Scouts, “Be prepared” by having printed copies of the consortium’s documents readily available. The life you save may be your own.
George Parry is a former federal and state prosecutor. He blogs at knowledgeisgood.net and may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.