At a Senate hearing, six prominent physicians called for removing obstacles to outpatient therapies for COVID-19 they contend are saving lives.
The testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Tuesday was the second part a hearing organized by Chairman Ron Johnson titled "Early Outpatient Treatment: An Essential Part of a COVID-19 Solution."
Dr. Jane Orient, the executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, urged the committee to exercise its oversight over federal agencies that are "effectively blocking treatment that could prevent 100,000 needless deaths and stop the crippling fear and the destruction of millions of livelihoods."
"Today's top-down, authority-based 'standard of care' for early COVID, promulgated in NIH guidelines, is therapeutic nihilism," she said in her prepared statement.
"This is shocking and unprecedented, but in today’s litigious
environment," she said, doctors who "dare prescribe" a drug proven to effectively treat COVID-19 like hydroxychloroquine could be "fired, removed from insurance panels, investigated, or even delicensed."
Other witnesses were Ramin Oskoui, the CEO of Foxhall Cardiology in Washington, D.C.; Jean-Jacques Rajter, a pulmonologist at Broward Health Medical Center in Florida; Pierre Kory, associate professor of medicine at St. Luke's Aurora Medical Center; Armand Balboni, CEO of Appili Therapeutics Inc.; and Jayanta Bhattacharya, professor of medicine at Stanford University.
Orient said patients nationwide are calling her organization, the AAPS, in search of a doctor who will treat them.
"One patient told me he had had his wife drive him all the way to Dallas when all the doctors he knew in Tucson refused to prescribe hydroxychloroquine," she said.
"His severe symptoms were relieved within hours."
She said doctors report that they can't get hydroxychloroquine for their nursing home patients.
Orient insisted that randomized controlled trials don't support the quarantines, masks and lockdowns.
"They have not stopped the pandemic and are unsustainable," she said.
She said vaccines are touted as "a great hope" but have not been shown to prevent contagion.
"What is needed now is effective early treatment for COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine and other safe, long-used agents could be immediately available if government stopped blocking access and deterring use."
See the hearing:
In the first hearing, in November, as WND reported, the panel's chairman, Johnson, noted hydroxychloroquine was used as a "weapon" in the presidential election after it was promoted by President Trump.
"The doctors who have had the courage to follow the Hippocratic oath and use their off-label prescription rights to treat patients using hydroxychloroquine have been scorned and state medical boards have threatened to withdraw their licenses," the senator said.
Johnson said he has publicly advocated for "allowing doctors to be doctors, to practice medicine, explore different therapies and share their knowledge within the medical community and with the public."
Inaction in front of mounting evidence
On Tuesday, Dr. Kory presented evidence that another blocked drug that is inexpensive and widely available, ivermectin, prevents infection and saves lives.
"Although we, like many, are extremely encouraged by the apparent successes in developing effective vaccines, we also are dismayed at the near complete absence of guidance and research on effective early, at-home, or preventative treatment options apart from vaccines, a reality we find unconscionable," he said in his statement.
Kory said he and his colleagues are "worried that if our call to action is not followed through, confidence in our health care leaders and agencies will be irreparably tarnished."
"Inaction in front of mounting evidence of safety and effectiveness during a catastrophic pandemic may also compromise widespread vaccination support," he warned.
"We will look back to the impact that actions versus inaction had on the U.S. and the globe two months from now," Kory said. "If we do nothing, the present trend will continue. History will judge."
Kory and his colleagues held a press conference last week in Houston:
Oskoui pointed to a physician called by Democrats to testify at the previous hearing, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, who doesn't treat COVID patient but condemned the use of hydroxychloroquine.
"In this crisis, doctors who are actually treating patients, unlike [Jha], are practicing medicine by trying different treatments to attack the virus early and give their patients hop," Oskoui said. "They should not be ridiculed, vilified, or worse."
He said the "establishment needs to be shaken up."
"The normal order of business will not be enough to defeat COVID-19," he said.
Oskoui said there's "too much regulation, too much cronyism, too much corruption."
"This crisis is a wake-up call. We need to set aside the old ways of doing things in Washington, innovate together and get our country back to work," he said. "We need to investigate why the NIH, academic medicine and the CDC failed us so badly."
Bhattacharya began by noting that early in the epidemic, the World Health Organization publicized a "very misleading 3.4% case fatality rate that panicked the world."
The rate has turned out to be closer to one-tenth of 1%, but in any case, "for the typical person infected, the usual outcome spans the range from no symptoms whatsoever, to a mild cold, to the severe viral pneumonia that the media highlights."
Bhattacharya cited the Great Barrington Declaration he co-sponsored, which has two planks.
"For older people, COVID-19 is a deadly disease that should be met with overwhelming resources aimed at protecting them wherever they are, whether in nursing homes, at their own home, in the workplace, or multi-generational homes," he said. "They should be prioritized for vaccines, and we should be actively seeking widely available and effective treatments."
But for "the non-vulnerable, who face far greater harm from the lockdowns than they do from COVID-19 infection risk, the lockdowns should be lifted and – for those who so decide – normal life resumed."
Bhattacharya said the National Institutes of Health's "relative lack of interest in the rapid randomized evaluation of non-patented drug evaluation represents a government failure that has likely led to worse COVID-19 outcomes than we would have had otherwise."
AAPS is inviting physicians who are offering early treatment for COVID-19 to add their names to a list of practices available to patients.
A page of related protocols, studies and other information is being compiled here.
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