As U.S. COVID-19 cases climb to nearly 10 million, the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a hearing on early medical responses to COVID-19. The hearing was held on December 8, 2020 and is the second of its kind.
As this is a particularly important issue to the American public, it was extremely disappointing that only two senators took time out of their schedules to attend. Those who attended included Sen. Ron Johnsons (R-WI) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
As the media and scientific community is searching for a vaccine as a silver bullet, there are other treatments that could be immediately beneficial to the public. Yet we hear little about these options and when frontline doctors do speak out in favor of these treatments, they are ridiculed and their integrity is questioned by the media.
Dr. Jane Orient director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons was an early proponent of looking to alternative treatments for COVID-19, including hydroxychloroquine.
Dr. Orient provides ample evidence that hydroxychloroquine has shown safety in the marketplace for more than 65 years, as well as 192 studies complied showing hydroxychloroquine to provide some benefit to patients with coronavirus when used early.
According to Dr. Orient, “Treating patients early is the best approach, and doctors must have the ability to do what is best for individual patients as that is a doctor’s number one priority.”
Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is blocking doctors’ ability to prescribe such drugs as early treatment options for COVID-19, even though there currently is no known cure and these viable treatment options have been proven safe and effective.
Another potentially lifesaving drug mentioned during the hearing was ivermectin. Dr. Ramin Oskoui testified on the benefits of this drug, which should matter because he has experience treating patients with COVID-19.
During the hearing, Dr. Oskoui questioned media influence shutting down reliable medical voices. Often times, drugs used to treat one ailment can be responsibly used to treat another. Dr. Oskoui stated, “In fact drugs or treatments for one disease are applied in a novel way to another disease, drugs like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin which are FDA approved, and have extensive safe guards for non-approved uses, both were approved decades ago, and have an established record on efficacy, and information on possible side effects physicians can review and are legally and required to review before prescribing.”
Because of draconian lockdowns and lack of treatment options, many in America are suffering from increased psychological distress. Dr. Jayanta Bhattacharya noted that, “1 in 4 adults considered suicide last June, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).”
The measures taken to prevent the spread, including lockdowns and social distancing, have repercussions that are often viewed by politicians as “unforeseen consequences.”
However, these consequences are easily predictable, from learning loss in children, higher rates of dementia in the elderly, to suicides spiking, and patients not seeking preventative care resulting in more cancers and preventable disease deaths. Humans are not meant to live in isolation, and it is irrational to shut down economies and impoverish millions, for a virus that has an infection survival rate of over 95 percent for those over 70-years-old, and over 99.95 percent for those under 70-years-old, according to Dr. Bhattacharya.
The American people are waiting for a vaccine, but while we wait, we can’t push public health to the wayside, while only focusing on COVID-19. And in that same breath, doctors must be allowed to treat patients in the best way they see fit. The American people are tired of politicians dictating what they can and can’t do as the pandemic drags on for months.
The American people will persevere, but the government needs to stand down, get out of our way, and allow us to make decisions, including the decision to receive potentially life-saving treatments in the midst of an ongoing pandemic.
Christina Herrin ([email protected]) is the government relations manager at The Heartland Institute, a nonpartisan, free-market think tank headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois.