Chloroquine, Covid 19, Fact Checkers, Pharmaceutical Companies, Vaccines and Lives Lost - Part 2
In Part 1 we looked at the reasons why chloroquine, particularly hydroxychloroquine, has become a strong candidate for the possible preventative treatment of the COVID 19 syndrome caused by the SARS-CoV-2 (SC2) coronavirus. We assessed some of the claims and counterclaims made, and questioned if the focus upon developing a vaccine, at the apparent expense of exploring more immediate treatment options, makes sense in the circumstances.
Now we'll consider what appears to be a deliberate campaign to avoid trialling hydroxychloroquine. Who has potentially been involved and what factors may explain this strange opposition? Before continuing, if you haven't yet done so, please read Part 1. This post assumes you are aware of the issues raised in that article.
The Chloroquine Fact Checkers
Following Prof. Dider Raoult's vocal support of the Chinese researchers and chloroquine's potential, Le Monde's fact checking Décodeurs began to release headlines like "Coronavirus Hydroxychloroquine: The Buzyn-Levy Couple, Target of Misleading Publications." The article rightly questioned the tendency of some to make conclusive statements based upon assumption and suspicion. However, in their "nothing to see here" piece_,_ les Décodeurs went to great lengths to insist these suspicions were all a "conspiracy." They stated:
_"The technique is well known: mixing real information with diverted or even invented facts." _
Just as Le Monde's Décodeurs did when they worked with Facebook to block access to a video published by the Mediterranean Infection Institute (IHU). As one of Facebook's official fact checking partners, les Décodeurs explained why they considered Prof Raoult's opinion to be "fake news," worthy of their censorship:
"Professor Raoult’s announcement is based on a very short “letter” to the journal BioScience Trends February 18 and published online the same day. Three researchers from the city of Qingdao (east China) mention ongoing clinical trials in more than ten Chinese hospitals."
Stating Prof. Raoult's announcement is based on a short letter is an "invented fact." As is the false claim that Chinese researchers "mention" ongoing trials. The letter was written in English because the Chinese scientists obviously wanted to release their data as widely and as quickly as possible. Perhaps les Décodeurs overlooked the apparent global pandemic?
In the letter the Chinese scientists provided references to completed clinical trials. Prof Raoult's opinion is based on the data. Like any other scientist in the world, he could access the evidence. I'm sure his years of experience, as one of the worlds leading microbiologists, also helped him form his opinion.
To be fair to les Décodeurs, they weren't the only fact checkers who decided advice from world renowned scientists was "fake news." AP Fact Check, in response to Donald Trump's observation that chloroquine could potentially bring infection rates down, said:
"The drugs he is referring to [hydroxychloroquine] are for treatment in patients already infected. That doesn’t prevent spread of the virus."
This is not a fact, it's "wrong." If chloroquine performs as initial trials suggest, it will reduce viral load and duration of infection in patients already infected. This means they won't be shedding the infection as readily, which will reduce the spread of infection.
"It is currently being tested in clinical trials in China, where it is included in government guidelines for treating coronavirus patients.......if the drug show promise, the FDA says it will engage with domestic manufacturers to ramp up production of this product."
In common with many others, this fact checker forgot to mention that limited trials were completed, which is why chloroquine entered into treatment guidelines. Nor did they mention its apparent efficacy in clinical settings. By questioning "if" the drug will show promise they deceived the reader into believing it hasn't already shown promise, which it has.
In 2017 the global advertising giant WPP’s European group M/Mindshare were contracted as the media agency for Sanofi. Managing Sanofi's vast advertising budget outside of the U.S. This move followed their significant 2014 investment in Les Nouvelles Editions Indépendantes (LNEI), the European media conglomerate created by Matthieu Pigasse. Along with business partners Daniel Kretinsky and Xavier Niel, Matthieu Pigasse owns "Le Monde" and pays the wages of _Les Décodeurs. _
Is it reasonable to ask why these corporate owned MSM fact checkers have been so loose with their claimed chloroquine facts? Why have they not been encouraged by the prevailing science? Why have they apparently sought to mislead the public?
Chloroquine Fake News
Alleged fact checkers are not the only prominent voices to have spread a little "fake news" about chloroquine, and in particular hydroxychloroquine. Speaking on March 24th the new French health minister Olivier Véran told the public:
"Cardiologists are also warning me that hydroxychloroquine can cause heart problems. In the United States, today, a person who had used it in self-medication suffered a fatal cardiac arrest."
While it is wise to caution against non prescribed use of medication, again some disinformation crept in. There's a pattern forming here. Someone doesn't like chloroquine.
The heart risk from chloroquine is not clear. Indeed some meta analysis of related studies indicate it may be associated with reduced cardiovascular risk in some patients. Where those risks have been suggested they are associated with acute poisoning, often deliberate, when used in combination with other antiviral drugs like lopinavir, or with prolonged use, not when used appropriately in short courses of treatment for specific syndromes such as COVID 19.
Amid the consistent fear porn and disinformation poured out by the mainstream media, an Arizona couple drank fish tank cleaner because it contained chloroquine. Needless to say this was not "self medication" with hydroxychloroquine tablets. This sad incident says far more about the immense fear the population is labouring under than it does about legitimate scientific and clinical research.
For the most senior officials to suggest people have died in the U.S after using hydroxychloroquine, as prescribed, is disinformation. Perhaps the French Health Minister was simply mistaken? He could have been more careful.
Eight weeks after chloroquine evidence first emerged, Olivier Véran allowed treating physicians to use it "off label" for COVID 19 treatment. Doctors are free to use it as they deem appropriate, but only for the most seriously ill patients. This guidance, though welcome, is still incongruent with the existing clinical recommendations to treat less severe cases.
If the French state is now willing to allow its use, while further clinical results are pending, why weren't they willing to base that decision on the existing science? In terms of possibly slowing the pandemic, or "flattening the curve", Véran's decision made no sense.
Wider use would possibly reduce viral load and illness duration, inhibiting the spread of infection. Potentially making the need for a vaccine less urgent and the necessity for a global economic shutdown redundant. Yet there seems to be very little enthusiasm among some establishment figures, in France and elsewhere, to pursue this option. Could this explain the opposition to trialling chloroquine? Do some powerful forces want the lock down to persist? Is a vaccine the only end point allowed?
Despite Le Monde's insistence the State is beyond suspicion of corruption and obstruction, legitimate questions should be asked. While their fact checkers note powerful voices in the French state may have acted to discredit chloroquine researchers, they stress these are merely allegations, "yet to be proven."
Quite so, and it is supposed to be the role of the mainstream media, like Le Monde, to investigate such allegations. But they haven't. Rather than questioning power they have staunchly defended it. We wait to see if they will actually interrogate any of the evidence. In the meantime, it is left to the alternative media to do so. They do it knowing the MSM will immediately castigate them as conspiracy theorists.
Questioning power at all is practically the definition of conspiracy theory. It used to be the definition of journalism.
Chloroquine Objections Run Deep
The inexplicable resistance to trialling chloroquine has been persistent. On 25th March Le Monde's Décodeurs Published an article in which they alleged that Prof. Didier Raoult had offered a _"miracle cure." _ They decried his opinion as "at best fragile, at worst wobbly" adding, "we are starting to count the first victims - by intoxication - of the craze for this molecule." Insinuating Prof. Raoult should shoulder blame for causing the craze and alleged associated deaths. Though what he can do to stop people drinking caustic cleaning fluid isn't entirely clear.
Les Décodeurs then released a video in which fellow scientist Professor Karine Lacombe appeared to suggest Prof. Raoult was recommending people take the drug contrary to medical advice. Whereas, in reality, he was advocating rapid repurposing trials. The video harshly criticised Prof Raoult's trials for lack of rigour. This was reasonable, Raoult's team admitted this themselves, saying they had, contrary to common practice, released preliminary results precisely because this is not a normal situation.
Explaining the lengthy clinical trial process, the Décodeurs acknowledged trials can run faster in emergencies, especially when the trialled drugs safety profile is already well known. Hydroxychloroquine's well known safety profile wasn't mentioned. Instead, Le Monde merely noted it had been available for many years. Misleading viewers into imagining the unknown safety of hydroxychloroquine.
In a moment of bewildering disinformation, Le Monde then stated "no human trials have been successful." Nowhere, in their well promoted video, did Le Monde acknowledge that Prof Raoult's first trial was essentially a corroborative investigation of the Chinese clinical trials. Nor do they mention his team clinical results, nor that China, South Korea and others have apparently been successfully treating COVID 19 patients with chloroquine.
Calling the conduct of the Prof. Raoult's team "absolutely scandalous" Prof. Lacombe, chief of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the St-Antoine Hospital (AP-HP), accused them of being "outside any ethical approach." As yet she hasn't levelled the same accusations against the WHO's SOLIDARITY trials, though they won't be using the double blind standard either.
Prof. Lacombe is a grant recipient from Gilead Sciences who hold the patent for their experimental drug remdesivir, currently being trialled as a potential COVID 19 treatment by the French Institute of Health and Medical Research called Inserm. She is one of Inserm's leading authors and a frequent lecturer on the French University Hospital (CHU) circuit.
AP-HP, where Prof. Lacombe heads a research department, currently holds more than 650 medical patents and has just announced a public private research partnership, in collaboration with the French government and the global pharmaceutical giant Sanofi. Her department will receive money from the seed fund set up by Sanofi. Speaking of their pride in the potentially lucrative collaboration, Sanofi announced:
"In light of the scale and urgency of the COVID-19 epidemic, Europe’s biggest university hospital center AP-HP and France’s leading pharma firm Sanofi, are joining forces to speed up clinical research to stem the epidemic......Since the outbreak of the epidemic, Sanofi has tirelessly continued to apply its knowledge of vaccines in particular.....sharing its experience with other countries in the research and development of vaccines with the CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations)."
Sanofi, along with Gilead Sciences, are one of the many industry partners of Inserm. Inserm's investment arm is called Inserm Transfert . It is a public private partnership and holds 82 license agreements and 300 R&D agreements with pharmaceutical corporations.
Sanofi also partners with CEPI and has a "non voting" seat on its Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC.) CEPI are focused exclusively on producing a coronavirus vaccine seeking $2 billion tax payer investment to create one. They are partnering with Inserm in the vaccine hunt. CEPI was created by, among others, the World Economic Forum, the Bill and Melida Gates tax exempt foundation and GlaxoSmithKline’s tax exempt foundation the Wellcome Trust. Bill Gates personal net worth alone is estimated to be $102 billion.
Chloroquine The French Connection
Following a recommendation made in November 2019, on January 15th then French Minister of Solidarity In Health, Agnès Buzyn, reclassified hydroxychloroquine in all its forms as a poisonous substance. It is by no means clear why a medication, available over the counter in French pharmacies for more than 50 years, with a proven safety profile, should suddenly be made solely available on prescription.
It is probably just a coincidence that the French state happened to limit access to the only freely available drug that would shortly become the first in the world to potentially offer a preventative treatment for a global pandemic. A pandemic for which the World Economic Forum, who formed CEPI, have an incredibly extensive and well prepared Strategic Intelligence plan.
Similarly, it is probably just another remarkable coincidence that CEPI is working with Inserm, the French State and its own board member Sanofi, to develop the vaccine the world is clamouring for. Hopefully $2 billion in European tax revenue will help in this corporate and private foundation led effort.
Agnès Buzyn ministerial role included oversight of Inserm. Eyebrows were raised when her husband Yves Lévy was appointed its head in 2014, during her period in office. Despite the glaringly obvious conflict of interest, and a nominal decree in 2017 that Agnès Buzyn would have no further control of Inserm, the husband and wife team were nonetheless responsible for both French health policy and medical research for the 4 years.
Yves Levy left Inserm in 2018 to become a special legal adviser to the French Council of State, though he has no notable legal experience. Agnès Buzyn resigned her ministerial post, in the midst of the emerging coronavirus pandemic, on February 16th 2020, supposedly to pursue her ambitions to run for Paris Mayor.
Prior to his new role, Yves Lévy greatly improved Inserm's vaccine development capabilities. As the former scientific director of the French National vaccine programme and executive director the Vaccine Research Institute laboratory of excellence, he was well suited to the job.
On the March 11th, five weeks after the first indication that chloroquine would be worth trialling for SC2, decades after it's potential to treat SARS-CoV was clear and three weeks after initial clinical trials results reinforced the likelihood, the French government’s health emergency rapid response committee (REACTing – REsearch and ACTion targeting emerging infectious diseases) announced they would exclude chloroquine and would only trial the patented drugs.
Professor Yazdan Yazdanpanah, head of REACTing, stated:
“We have not retained it [chloroquine] for the moment, in particular because of its undesirable effects.It also has frequent interactions with other drugs. However, intensive care patients are often treated with multiple drugs.”
REACTing is a committee of Inserm.
Following considerable public outcry, primarily as a result of Prof. Raoult's high profile championing of hydroxychloroquine, in a dramatic u-turn, on March 24th Inserm announced extensive clinical trials of potential COVID 19 treatments to include hydroxychloroquine.
Initial completed trials of lopinavir & ritonavar have shown no beneficial therapeutic effect. Hopes may now hinge on Gilead's remdesivir and the 'off patent' hydroxychloroquine. It is the only drug in the trials for which both completed clinical trial and successful COVID 19 treatment data already exists.
The trials are expected to take at least six weeks. Results could be available about three and a half months after Chinese researchers first alerted the world that chloroquine could possibly treat COVID 19. We wait to see if Inserm will approve their industry partner's remdesivir or the off patent hydroxychlorine. Hopefully they'll approve all the drugs that work. It is possible none will.
Although distinctly hostile to the chloroquine data for months, Inserm stated, in their press release dated the March 22nd:
"We analyzed the data from the scientific literature concerning the SARS and MERS coronaviruses as well as the first publications on SARS-COV2 from China to arrive at a list of antiviral molecules to be tested: remdesivir, lopinavir in combination with ritonavir.....and hydroxychloroquine.The list of these potential drugs is also based on the list of experimental treatments classified as priorities by the World Health Organization."
Better late than never. Shame about the totally unnecessary delay.
Given the comments of officials and high ranking physicians, apparent commercial conflicts of interest, fake facts from fact checkers and inexplicable clinical and regulatory decisions, a consistent disinformation campaign against chloroquine is evident. Further, the commercial conflicts raise the sickening possibility that profits, not lives, have in part driven this agenda.
While there is currently no evidence that excess winter mortality is anywhere near as bad as it was in 2017, the economy has been shut down and we all remain under effective house arrest. It would be extremely foolish to ignore evidence that suggests a degree of manipulation. All we can hope is that effective treatments will be found and that the economic damage isn't too severe. Unfortunately that is not looking very likely.
Take it easy you hoopy froods.