By Magnus Onyibe
According to preliminary test trial reports, of 350 patients administered with a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin medication in the state of New York , within 3-4 hours, breathing was restored, zero intubation, zero hospitalization and zero death.
If the above very encouraging statistics coming out of New York turns out to be authentic , then governor Andrew Cuomo, who damned the bureaucratic red herrings in Washington by authorizing the test trial, will go into history book as a true hero of Covid-19 pandemic that deserves to be celebrated as it is a tangible evidence that the killer virus which has so far forced the elderly amongst us to their early graves is about to be reined in.
For the nearly four months or so since covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan city in the Kobe district of China , coronavirus had busted the notion of indefatigability built around the powerful, by sending many world leaders into quarantine. From Boris Yelsin, the UK, prime minister, to Justin Trudeau, the Canadian president and Angela Merkhel, the prime minister of Germany who are currently ‘sheltering in place’ after testing positive for the virus , the deadly coronavirus is exhibiting the tendencies of not differentiating between the plebeians and the powerful leaders of some of the richest and most powerful nations on earth.
Not even some of the most famous monarchs and princes are spared as the queen of England Elizabeth ll has retreated into her alternative abode deep in the countryside for the fear of catching the dreaded coronavirus sickness. The 93 years old queen’s over 70 years old son, prince Charles, having been diagnosed positive of the virus, has also now taken refuge in a remote part of England deep in the woods for treatment and recuperation.
With so much doom and gloom pervading the global space as reflected by the alarming number of people on track to hit a million mark infected, and nearly thirty (30) thousand so far dead , the good news that a combination of the common malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin has overwhelmed the virus is supposed to bring the much needed sunshine into a palpably death laden global atmosphere.
So it is disheartening and disappointing that some unseen hands in the organized medical/ pharmaceutical products development and marketing sector of the world, embedded in the inner recesses of the establishment in New York and Washington may be pursuing selfish and exploitative agenda, hence this otherwise cherry development is not being ventilated or given the attention that it deserves.
Is it not quixotic that the tested and proven combination of anti malaria remedy of hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic, azithromycin which have produced positive effects of successfully curing coronavirus patients is not even being considered a frontline antidote for the killer virus by the US Centre For Disease Control, CDC and Food and Drugs Administration, FDA?
It is my suspicion that the tzars of the industry regulatory agencies that are claiming that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin need more extensive clinical trials-a bureaucratic process that takes a very long period and therefore an unwise measure to take at this critical point in time are being manipulated by the unseen hands of vested interests. How else can one explain a situation whereby an effective, perhaps not the most efficient medication needed to stem the tide of death that now pervades the world is bring taken off the equation as a potential cure, if not to create some delay that would allow the medications currently in the pipelines-Remdesivir first developed as trial antidote for Ebola and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, MERS now being targeted at coronavirus, come into gestation?
Isn’t it preposterous that it’s only two or so that are on full trials in the USA? Contrast that with China which has on clinical trial about twelve, including the good old chloroquine.
In the war front, which leaders of all nations now have a consensus of opinion that the coronavirus pandemic has become, does effective treatment of a wounded soldier not trump the efficient dressing of the wound ?
So why are the medical/ pharmaceutical products regulatory agencies and the dark, powerful and manipulative forces promoting some yet to be clinically tested drugs, while discountenancing the established efficacy of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin?
A number of reasons could be adduced for that.
The most plausible in my view is probably because chloroquine with a World War II origin is about a century old medication and in that status it has become generic, very cheap and therefore a spoiler for the big players in the medical/ pharmaceutical world waiting to cash in on the business opportunity created by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The excuse being made by the opponents of the use of chloroquine-the popular anti malaria solution is that there may be harmful side effects of the therapy which the drug regulatory authorities don’t want to expose Americans to. Truth is that there is no drug that does not have a side effect.
Even if the fears about unsavory side effects were to be true, coronavirus kills its patients, evidence of which is that about 30,000 and counting human beings have died worldwide in the past three months of the of the pandemic.
Is it not better a sufferer from Covid-19 illness saves his/her life by taking chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine solution and risk suffering a side effect as a living being , than dying from the disease owing to no treatment at all?
As things currently stand, it is as if it is being argued and considered better to let coronavirus patients die by not being given the opportunity to be treated with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin to stay alive simply because of the unfounded fear that a cure via hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin combination might impair other organs in the body.
Ironically, it is being stated by doctors that those who recover from coronavirus attacks even without hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin solution would suffer permanent damage to their breathing system.
If that outcome is acceptable by the authorities, why is it that the yet to be established possible negative side-effects from hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin be such a big deal, as the Americans would say?
I suspect that it is the vice grip of the under ground forces on the medical world that is strengthening the demurring attitude of the leaders of CDC and FDA over the use of the well documented hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. If my suspicion is correct, it would not be the first time in the history of the USA that vested interests would be putting the agenda of money making over the safety of lives.
To put my things in context, let’s recall the high wired conspiracy by the NFL to prevent Bennett Omalu, a US/Nigerian neurosurgeon based in West Virginia from publishing his discovery in 2005 that persistent head butting in the course of the sport was responsible for the mental illness of NFL players after retirement.
Hitherto, there was no knowledge of the cause of the very mentally debilitating diseases amongst NFL players who more often than not ended up going nuts. Since Omalu’s sudden discovery of the disease during his routine work in the university of West Virginia laboratory that he named Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, CTE was going to dramatically change the course and cost of engaging in or doing business in the National Football League, NFL, America’s favorite game, the movers and shakers of the multi billion dollars industry, resolved to discredit Omalu’s CTE report despite the unimpeachable science behind it, in order not to upturn the money spinning Apple cart-NFL.
In a special report titled Game Brain by Jeanne Marie Laskas in GQ magazine, October 2009, in narrating his sordid experience, Ben Omalu said “There are times I wish I never looked at Mike Webster’s brain. It has dragged me into worldly affairs I do not want to be associated with. Human meanness, wickedness, and selfishness. People trying to cover up, to control how information is released. I started this not knowing I was walking into a minefield. That is my only regret.”
I see a repeat of the well documented and celebrated conspiracy of NFL leadership against the now renown scientist, but hitherto unknown Ben Omalu after he discovered CTE as being a strong factor for the deadly mental conditions of players to the chagrin of the NFL top dogs. The discovery became one of the critical factors that changed the NFL game for the better as Omalu persistently proved the case against the tidal wave of NFL’s crushing power.
By discountenancing a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as a possible cure for the all conquering monster of a virus-Covid-19 which is somehow quixotic, the vested interests in the multi billion dollars medical industry, it is pretty clear that the major stake holders are not ready to allow a very inexpensive cocktail of medication to be the solution into the project of finding cure for coronavirus of which they have invested several millions of dollars in researching and developing.
Heartily, the US president, Donald Trump who is very anxious to put the menace of covid-19 behind him so that he can get on with the business of getting re-elected for a second term in office later in November, don’t have that kind of optics or share in what seems like the sinister agenda of the medical/pharmaceutical industry goons hellbent on maintaining a stranglehold on the sector, hence he was excited when he first got wind of the intelligence that a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin could be the elixir for the issues giving him political cramps – Covid-19 pandemic that he is currently grappling with.
Similarly, despite the reservations being expressed by the medical industry regulators, FDA and CDC, New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo decided to cut through the bluster by also embracing the proposal to try hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin combination on New Yorkers infected with the novel coronavirus. That’s ostensibly because of the governor’s desire to spare himself the torture of staying up at night to ponder what he can humanly possibly do to stem the ugly tide of burying so many members of his political constituents being killed in droves by the monster-coronavirus pandemic.
Although, both the president of the USA and the governor of the state of New York seem to be aligned on the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, it is not for the same noble goal of upending the vested interest in the medical/pharmaceutical industry whose enlightened self interest may be causing the world to loose more lives that could have been saved with the cheap drug being despised. Rather it is for the personal selfish interests of politicians representing both the Republican and Democratic parties in the USA.
So in a manner that reflects the conventional wise crack ‘different strokes for different folks,’ the separate agendas of the two politicians at federal and state levels are combining to have a common positive effect on the medical/pharmaceutical industry in the way that the discovery of CTE by Ben Omalu initially rankled the leadership of the NFL before his discovery eventually culminated into positive outcome for USA’s favorite sports-NFL. In fact, Ben Omalu’s ordeal in the hands of the seedy powers behind the scene pulling the puppet strings in the world of NFL actually inspired a blockbuster movie titled: CONCUSSION which stars Will Smith as Dr Omalu.
Being in tropical Africa, a malaria prone zone, there is hardly any adult Nigerian that has not been treated with chloroquine in his or her life time because at some point in time it was the preferred and almost exclusive anti malaria medication. As President Trump remarked in one of his media briefings, Africans have been using chloroquine without untoward consequences. And by the same token l would argue that some chloroquine residues ingested long ago might still abide in the blood stream of most of us. Arising from the above, I’m of the conviction that our physicians would not subscribe to the New York and Washington conspiracy against the tested and proven chloroquine by exposing Nigerians that test positive for the coronavirus virus to an unnecessary wait for the full evolution of the work-in-progress drugs still in undergoing clinical trial.
Rather, l’m persuaded that they won’t be distracted by the buccaneers in the USA who are engaging in the shenanigans of denouncing the application of the century old medicine as remedy for the coronavirus disease that has exhibited the characteristics of malaria and other ailments that were previously treated with chloroquine.
In the absence of a new cure for a monster of a disease that is killing humans for daring to breathe in a manner akin to how atomic or nuclear force sucks away oxygen in the atmosphere leading to the horrific end of human life, the consequences of which are the death toll now spiraling out of control, a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin medication becomes the real cure or one of the antidotes for the almighty coronavirus disease.
Sticking to the good old dictum that the devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know, Nigerian medical practitioners should not be swayed by the powerful underworld of the medical/pharmaceutical industry who are pursuing their selfish and narrow interests . It is only when the medical community in Nigeria elect to rely on their experience rather than practice, would Nigerians and indeed the world have a happy ending to this hell on earth experience (Covid-19) previously imagined to exist only in the realm of Steven king’s hair raising book on pandemics ‘The Stand’ or similar Ski-fi movies and other works of fiction.
*Magnus Onyibe, a development strategist and alumnus of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Massachusetts USA, is the founder/ CEO of Germbusters.ng by Inspire Consulting Ltd. He sent this piece from Lagos.