What is the real motivation behind the staggering number of worldwide corporations, organisations, physicians and politicians, still promoting unproven drugs against Covid-19?
Perhaps one single word may be sufficient enough to describe the reason behind this misinformation machine: profit!
Despite the international scientific community advising against the use of several medications, including hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, invermectin, nitazoxanide, azitromycin, and corticosteroids, against Covid-19, some organisations, physicians and politicians continue to promote the use of these drugs as an early treatment against SARS-CoV-2 infection in many parts of the world.
As the world was hit by a pandemic in 2020, many doors were open to fraud, manipulation and the spread of misinformation.
We must go back to the 70s and remind ourselves about the MMR autism fraud, driven by British doctor and anti-vax activist Andrew Wakefield, as a perfect example.
Wakefield’s intention, similar to some of the recent Covid-19 drug promoters, was financially driven, as he planned on developing a replacement vaccine for MMR as well as testing kits that would let doctors diagnose “autistic entercolitis”, with potential annual revenues of over USD 44 million.
Wakefield now lives in the US and has become a misinformation powerhouse receiving millions from wealthy donors.
The Questionable Drugs
Cloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are medications authorised to treat malaria and some autoimmune diseases. The US National Institute of Health, NIH, advises against the use of these drugs for both outpatient treatment as well as prophylaxis of Covid-19.
According to the European Medicines Agency, and The Lancet, both drugs are known to potentially cause heart rhythm problems, including ventricular tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation, and death, especially if combined with the antibiotic azithromycin.
The FDA made an announcement as early as July 2020 reviewing the safety issues with the use of both hydroxycloroquine and chloroquine when treating hospitalised patients with Covid-19, including reports of serious heart rhythm problems, blood and lymph systems disorders, kidney injuries, and liver problems and failure.
The side effects of these medications may not only affect the heart, liver and kidneys, but also cause cutaneous adverse reactions and cell damage leading to seizures.
Invermectin is another drug being promoted as an early treatment of Covid-19 in some countries. According to guidelines published by the FDA in December 2021, invermectin is only approved, at very specific doses, for human use to treat infections caused by some parasitic worms, head lice and skin conditions like rosacea.
Some organisations in the US and Brazil, backed up by physicians and politicians, continue with the promotion of these unproven drugs against Covid-19.
The FLCC Alliance (Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care), and “Physicians for Life” released a protocol, translated in various languages, promoting invermectin, with the support of the BIRD Group (the British Invermectin Recommendation Development).
The FLCC Alliance website is filled with a vast amount of content, including articles, videos, graphs, webinars, testimonials, FAQ’s, public statements, a book club as well as a link to a donations and store page, all trying to convince the population of the effectiveness of these unproven drugs against Covid-19.
A popular promoter of these drugs is Guo Wengui, also known as Miles Kwok, an exiled Chinese billionaire who owns G News (Guo Media) and co-founded GTV Media Group with Steve Bannon in 2020.
Guo is anti-vax and one of the key orchestrators of the misinformation network also promoting the use of unproven Covid-19 treatments, such as invermectin, artemisin, hydrochloroquine, dexamethasone, and oxytetracycline, amongst other medications.
How It All Started
Donald Trump was perhaps the one who initiated promoting these drugs as soon as the pandemic hit in 2020. The “Father” of chloroquine was born.
Soon after, Brazil’s president and Trump’s long lasting loyal admirer, Jair Bolsonaro, followed Trump’s footsteps when he visited him at Mar-O-Lago in March 2020. Since then, the sale of these drugs has skyrocketed in Brazil.
“When the first obstacle emerged, Covid-19, it became obvious that the government’s objective was not a technical solution for the problem, but rather a political one. Political work to induce people not to believe in the disease and return to work, transforming Brazil into total chaos, and that was not in line with my principles”, said Brazil’s former health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, when I spoke with him in February 2021. Bolsonaro sacked Mandetta in April 2020, after he refused to promote chloroquine as a Covid-19 treatment.
Drugs from the “Covid Kit” continue to be prescribed, even after the World Health Organisation, WHO, declared their ineffectiveness against Covid-19 in October 2020.
Bolsonaro’s government has spent millions of dollars producing, purchasing and promoting drugs such as ivermectin, chloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin, as well as anticoagulants, painkillers and vitamins. Brazil’s ministry of health, along with a large number of doctors, endorsed the use of these drugs to treat Covid-19, even though they have no proof to be effective.
According to the Lancet, one in every four individuals in Brazil has taken drugs from the “Covid Kit”, including through self-medication. Data from “DETECTCoV-19” study showed that the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection was 50% higher among those who self-medicated as prophylaxis for Covid-19.
On January 21, 2022, Brazil’s ministry of health released a report, signed by the Secretary of Science, Technology, Innovation and Strategic Inputs in Health, Helio Angotti Neto, stating that hydroxychloroquine was effective on fighting Covid-19, not the vaccine. On February 04, a group of doctors filed an appeal against the report.
The Brazilian Society of Virology, SBV, made the following statement on January 22, 2022, soon after the ministry of health released their report:
“In the third year of the pandemic, much has been learned, and there is no longer room for frivolous and unfounded insistence, such as the insistence on therapies based on the replacement of the aforementioned drugs. These conclusions, which disapprove of the use of the so-called “Covid Kit” to treat the infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID19, were definitively presented by Brazilian medical experts who formed a working group to analyze the impact of its use for the treatment of the disease on screen”.
According to data from a survey carried out by Globo, notifications of adverse effects caused by the “Covid Kit” drugs increased 558% in 2020, compared to the previous year.
A popular organisation promoting the use of the “Covid Kit” against Covid-19 in Brazil is the platform “Physicians for Life” or “Medicos pela Vida Covid-19”, containing a staggering number of videos promoting the “Covid Kit” and opposing the Covid-19 vaccine.
On their website, “Medicos pela Vida Covid-19” state that their objective is to “treat people affected by covid-19 early, in order to prevent them from being hospitalised, intubated and at risk of death”. They even have doctors available over the phone and on WhatsApp offering prescriptions for these drugs.
The pandemic has exacerbated cracks that already existed in our society, where a few players are given an open platform to spread their rhetoric and misinformation, misleading individuals to use unproven drugs against Covid-19. The bill is often paid at a very high cost, their own health, and sometimes, their lives.
The question we must ask ourselves, how cheap has life become?