There are two tracks to the global pandemic, those countries that went for the $0.64 pill and those that stuck with the precautions.
On the latter list, count the blue half of America and most Canada, or at least most of our northern neighbor’s provinces, where strict guidelines were even published by the doctor, nurses and pharmacist unions of Ontario to explicitly prohibit taking or prescribing HCQ.
That would be Hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug that has confounded those hoping it would not be the simple-stupid cure for Corona Virus.
We’ve since learned that for years, scientists have known that HCQ also fighting Cancer, Arthritis and even Diabetes, that its basic ingredient — quinine — can be made at home, and on Monday that U.S. President Donald J. Trump has been popping the pill daily.
Joint Statement of Pharmacist, Nurses and Doctors on untested & potentially dangerous drugs for COVID-19 https://t.co/3c0jMzSi7M @celliottability @OPAProfAff @OntariosDoctors @OntPharmacists @NPsinCanada @CBCNews @CTVNews @picardonhealth @theresaboyle @kellygrant1 @NightShiftMD pic.twitter.com/j3SrcLwMMQ
— RNAO (@RNAO) March 24, 2020
But reading the missive from the Ontario medical community, and it’s long list of reasons why not to take the pill, even alluding to shortages of it — which seem unlikely as Canada’s Apotek is among the world’s largest manufacturers of the generic drug — their caution and dread are palpable:
“While research and testing are ongoing, we need to take stock of the impact of
unrestricted prescribing and dispensing of these two products… Due to the recent yet-to-be-proven claims of effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine sulfate against COVID-19 and the growth in prescribing for it, we are now faced with a very serious shortage (and some brands, outages) of the product.”
The statement was written on behalf of 110,000 doctors, nurses and pharmacists.2020-03-23 OPA-OMA-RNAO Statement to Members v2
In Canada, only one province refused to follow the recommendations to abstain from its uses — New Brunswick — and by prescribing the $0.64 generic pill, their recovery rates (blue line) are triple or quadruple that of the other provinces and the nation as a whole.
Another country that went with the antidote over was tiny Costa Rica.
In a revealing interview translated into English, the medical director of Costa Rica’s social security agency, along with its health minister, director of its children’s hospital and director of drug safety, described how this generic drug is manufactured locally, is being prescribed on a case-by-case basis, but applicable to nearly everyone, except for alcoholics with weak livers and those with kidney disease. And that it works.
Most eye-opening, the Costa Rican health officials said they determined HCQ was the right course of treatment after its embassy in China organized a video-conference with health officials there who said the cheap pill “was used in Shanghai as the first line of treatment,” in the words of Mario Ruiz, medical director of their system.
Their meeting with China was March 18, five days before the Ontario medical community came out against HCQ — point being, the option was certainly available, understood by scientists for decades and delivered on a silver platter by every country with diplomatic relations with China that accepted their offer to hear how Shanghai met the outbreak.
Indeed, before March, every Asian country impacted by the virus had published studies to the pill’s effectiveness — never mind the fact that our own CDC had a research paper on the books since 2005 describing how it was effective against a similar outbreak.
Sadly, it looks more and more like the waiting game has been political machinations at their worst.
“We decided to ask for help from those who have gone through this. The experts from Shanghai and Wuhan gave us recommendations for patient management. We were told that it is key that a mild or moderate patient does not become severe. They explained that they used hydroxychloroquine for this, but never azithromycin (an antibiotic for respiratory infections) due to the associated cardiac complications,” Ruiz told La Nacion.
They credited drug in mitigating and containing the progression of the virus as well as reducing the number of patients hospitalized in intensive care units.
The specialist in immunology in the group interview described their results with the drug mirrored its successful use in Brazil and France, so the choice was an obvious one.
(India had also come out in favor it early, as had other tropical countries with malaria issues, where very few people got sick from the disease, as the HCQ used to prevent malaria was also working against the Corona Virus.)
The newspaper also printed a photo of the executive president of the Costan Rican social security with a representative of Switzerland’s Novartis, which shipped them 108,000 pills.
The majority of Costa Rica’s sick have recovered — only 10 people have died, so far.
Indeed, while the epicenter of the outbreak Wuhan Province, was shut for 76 days — about the length of time all Americans have been sheltering in place — the rest of China was only stuck on the infernal pause for 16 days.
The HCQ does short work of the virus — with relief being reported in the first six hours and with most symptoms gone — as with a typical antibiotic — in a week.
Shanghai’s “first line of treatment” was to prescribe the pill, after which the entire country was safe in a fortnight.
Now compare that bold decision to the fence-sitting medical advice being proffered by Ontario’s medical unions:
“Physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and pharmacists alike are all hopeful for an end to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, and we are collectively confident that effective treatments will emerge soon. But, as evidence-based clinicians, we must be diligent in our efforts not to let blind hope drive our decisions. As more studies are conducted in this area and evidence emerges, it is also important that clinicians judiciously prescribe and dispense medications to ensure patients who require therapy continue to have access. Our patients expect us to protect them to the best of our abilities, and with all health professions rallying together, we will ensure that our patients are well cared for and that their confidence in us – and in the drug supply – is well founded.”
Again, two tracks to the global pandemic.
And, guess what, North American Patriots, we’ve been on the wrong track all along.
Thankfully, President Trump has stepped in to reverse the blue state governors who had been prohibiting the “off-label” use of HCQ.
And while China may now be backing the $1000 per pill Remdesivir product, the simple-stupid solution will always win the day.