The HCQ Wars Demonstrate That Your Tribalism Has a Good Excuse
The Politicization of a Potential Life Saver During a Pandemic
You don’t stand a chance. You really, really don’t. Hardly anyone can afford to spend 90 hours of careful research on each aspect of a public debate.
Now, multiply that by every issue out there!
We mere mortals choose tribalism as a method of self-defense. We rely on people we think we can trust and resist people who make us suspicious.
Human beings lack the capacity to resist the repetitive and exploitative manipulation by vote-seeking political forces and ratings-craving media outlets—the people who run the Conflict Machine.
Tribalism is a self-defense mechanism in response to active political manipulation.
The manipulation is so bad that it’s resulted in the suppression of, if not the outright banning of contrary narratives. This suppression means it might be difficult, even impossible to circulate this article to friends. The mere mention of the primary drug in the COVID-19 treatment cocktail often leads to social media banning.
Here at TEN (The Exit Network), we've come to these conclusions because we've just spent 90 hours researching one small yet important aspect of the COVID wars—the use of HCQ (hydroxychloroquine).
Hypothesis: A common and complete treatment regimen featuring HCQ, prescribed during the early ambulatory phase of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, suppresses symptom severity sufficient to prevent the need for hospitalization.
Even after all those hours of research to "stress test" this hypothesis, we’re still not quite able to produce a written report showing that we’ve proven our case beyond all reasonable doubt. We’re going to share with you what we’ve learned so far, and where we’re at provisionally (subject to new evidence).
It will only take you several minutes instead of 90 hours.
What did we uncover?
Based on the official death toll as of 5/10/21, it is likely that at least 100,000 Americans and reasonably 220,000 didn’t need to succumb to this plague, because…
A treatment regimen featuring HCQ, used at an early stage, has proven to be both effective and inexpensive. Consider that, very nearly everyone who succumbs to this disease first goes through a hospital stay. Therefore, it's common sense to assert that reducing the number of hospitalizations means reducing at least the same amount of deaths. It turns out that when this cocktail is delivered early enough, hospitalizations decline between 38% and 84%, and the death count goes down even further.
Yet the establishment, to this day, insists on two things as if they are facts…
There is no such thing as a treatment when symptoms first manifest. The CDC and the WHO position (as of 5/10/21) is you wait it out at home, but be sure to wash your hands. As of April, the NIH is doing a little better. They now recommend monoclonal antibodies, but only for some outpatients who have advancing symptoms—not in the early-ambulatory stage.
HCQ is being promoted by “snake-oil salesmen” because the studies show that it not only doesn’t work, but that it also might be dangerous.
What the negative studies show
We cannot help feeling that, to meet our standards, there’s still more research to do. But our TEN team cannot afford to invest potentially hundreds of staff hours just to create one article. It’s a simple case of economics. We decided that the most important research we could do, in a situation like this, is to read the studies that falsify our hypothesis. So that's where we began. We've found that one or more of the following things can be said about the negative studies.
First, nearly all of these studies started treatment too late, not by the recommended day four or five. Consider one of the (two) most-quoted HCQ-critical studies: Repurposed Antiviral Drugs for Covid-19. This is the WHO (World Health Organization) trial. It clearly states its findings apply only to hospitalized patients: A "randomized trial involving hospital inpatients to evaluate the effects of these four drugs on in-hospital mortality."
It's likely that the cytokine storm was raging by the time they applied the treatment. By then, it was too late to prevent hospitalization. In fact, the overwhelming majority of the in vivo studies are about treatment administered after the patient was admitted to the hospital. A close reading of the other most-quoted trial (Recovery) reveals that some of the patients might have been in the ICU or on a ventilator already!
Second, there are typically four prescriptions that are used in the treatment. In addition to HCQ, prescribing doctors use zinc, azithromycin, and an anti-inflammatory (usually a steroid, such as prednisone).
But in those rare studies where the drug was started pre-hospitalization (which is still not necessarily early enough), the study organizers left out these other parts of the standard treatment cocktail. HCQ works as part of a “team,” much like how AIDS was fought 25 years ago—something everyone working in immunology should know.
Third, is perhaps the most stunning thing of all. Two of the large research trials—including the one most consistently referenced by the kind of experts who show up on CNN, or who get quoted in The Times and The Globe—appear to be cases where the (already hospitalized) patients were overdosed.
Each of these studies was huge. One of them was multinational. Could expert professionals make such a mistake? In not just one, but two major trials?
Well, this story turned into a scandal in France, the UK, and Australia. We found researching this question difficult because no allegedly "reputable" journalists here in the States covered this overdosing scandal.
One reason we believe this overdosing occurred was that the health bureaucrats of an Asian nation wrote a letter expressing their concerns. First, they announced their refusal to follow the dosing guidelines of the study, choosing the normal dose of HCQ instead. Second, they questioned why the researchers were overdosing the patients by 4x the recommended amount! Despite these reasonable complaints the HCQ dosage wasn’t corrected in the other participating nations.
And instead of denying the overdose of HCQ, the leaders of the study doubled-down with justifications for their much higher regimen.
Globally, early on, the two most common treatment regimens for HCQ were similar to malaria dosing:
(38%) 400mg twice daily on day one; 400 mg daily for five days
(26%) 400mg twice daily on day one; 200 mg twice daily for four days
But the Solidarity trial (WHO) and Recovery trial (Oxford/Gates) dosed 800 mg twice in the first six hours, then 400 mg more the first day; 400 mg daily for ten days by Solidarity, nine days (or until discharge/death) by Recovery.
"The reasons behind the dose selection in the Recovery trial are unclear," said David Jayne, professor of clinical autoimmunity at Cambridge University. "Hydroxychloroquine overdose is associated with cardiovascular, neurological, and other toxicities, occurring with doses over 1500 mg, and higher doses are associated with fatality.” The British Medical Journal reported his concern that HCQ toxicity may have contributed to the adverse outcomes seen in the Recovery trial. On that basis, he expressed doubt that the study was reliable.
Outside the mortality zone
Fourth, we found one study that made the establishment’s case—no statistically relevant benefit for early treatment patients. We breathed a sigh of relief that all that unnecessary death wasn't real. Maybe the truth won out, despite the rest of the establishment’s junk science.
But upon closer review, the oldest person in the study was 51 years of age. Why is that important?
The median age of mortality for COVID-19 in the U.S. is at least 78 years old. According to government sources, persons under 50 account for just 4.4% of the deaths due to coronavirus (source: CDC as of 5/10/21). Think about it: You’re unlikely to get a statistically significant outcome on mortality when you include only the people who are most certain to survive anyway, but exclude those who are at the greatest risk.
Motivation to suppress
We also could not help noticing just how motivated the establishment was to suppress this treatment.
First, the drug became a partisan political football because President Dr. Trump recommended it. His prescription pad was his Twitter account. He was so enthusiastic about this medication that he announced he was taking it prophylactically. This behavior hurt more than helped. It made HCQ a political target.
As for treating a positive diagnosis, there were no known treatments at the outset of this plague (it’s important to keep that in mind). Yet it seemed there were people, in exalted places, who were rooting against HCQ working just because Trump advocated it!
How motivated were the experts?
We combed through year-old media reports, which isn't easy given that coronavirus is the biggest news story of the internet era (think of the number of duplicate search terms). At the time, the media's experts raised the specter that the people who were already using this drug for approved treatments would experience a life-threatening shortage of supply. But their bigger criticism was that the study that was getting so much attention was small.
At the outset of a plague, you'd expect the studies to be tiny. This one was conducted by the most prominent microbiologist in France (Didier Raoult, who will come back to our story, later, with a much bigger study). It's small observational studies, like this, that routinely become the basis for bigger, placebo-controlled, clinical research trials. Indeed, before Trump got involved, it would’ve been scientifically strange to say, “This study is useless.” Small studies like this lead to the hypotheses that scientists crave to test.
Moreover, there’s the issue of basic humanity. When potentially millions of people are about to die, you should be rooting for the life-saving medicine to work, right?
But they didn’t stop with just the shortages and small-study arguments. What happened next showed their true colors. It’s also the thing most members of the public, maybe even you, know about HCQ.
The Lancet-ing of Dr. Donald Trump
The Lancet is the most highly respected medical journal coming out of the UK. On May 22, they released a huge HCQ study. The authors of that study reviewed 96,000 medical records from multiple nations on a few continents. It showed, conclusively, that HCQ was ineffective when used to treat COVID-19. It also indicated that HCQ actually increased mortality. In other words, take HCQ for coronavirus, and you're more likely to die.
The establishment response to this news was swift and oddly jubilant. The chorus couldn’t help saying, “We told you so!” From their perspective, Donald Trump’s drug was proved to be dangerous – yes, a 65-year-old pharmaceutical had somehow become “his drug.”
The Federalist chronicled a flood of “I told you so” tweets from members of the major media, political figures, and other influencers. The torrent included MSNBC, the Canadian Broadcasting System, and the Chicago Tribune. Many of them made it clear that Trump was wrong. Another common theme was the lament that Dr. Deborah Birx (White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator) had to put up with Trump.
As a result of the study, HCQ was banned in France. That Lancet report was also the cause for a pause of major studies about HCQ. And the regime media began pressing various high-ranking political figures to ban HCQ here at home. As a result, it was suppressed and banned in some states. Dr. Tony Fauci wouldn’t commit to banning it, but on May 27 he said it was “quite evident” that this medicine didn’t work. The official message, from that point forward, would always be "move on" from HCQ.
However, on June 4, The Lancet retracted the report. The database was probably shoddy. We cannot know for sure because the producers of the database refused to let it be audited.
Of course, the retraction of the study received nowhere near the coverage that its original publication attained. Worse, some studies that paused couldn’t restart because now people were scared to use this product.
But is HCQ actually dangerous? This is laughable. It's an 75-year-old drug that's been used as a pharmaceutical for 65 years. Pregnant women have safely used HCQ. It's widely used for malaria and some autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Is there a safety concern? Yes. Roughly 1% of the population cannot take HCQ due to side effects. This includes people with Long QT syndrome—a cardiac issue that affects 1 in 7,000 persons. But there are ways to screen for these conditions before prescribing HCQ.
Every drug has side effects. But consider that some patients take HCQ for far longer than the five-day, early ambulatory COVID regimen. Consider also that it's taken millions of times each year. An examination of the FDA's Adverse Event Reporting System, from 1968 to 2019, shows that in 50 years there were a total of 200 HCQ deaths somehow related to cardiac or heart rhythm issues. And three different studies with 1,878 coronavirus patients taking HCQ turned up not one single cardiac arrhythmia event.
Was the suppression of HCQ a conspiracy?
Only the establishment's information can be published on search and social platforms, and contrary narratives are suppressed or banned, and…
All the approved experts tell you the same thing in the name of science, then…
It’s likely that supposed "scientific expertise" has been politically weaponized.
Was the suppression intentional? If so, to what end?
As we indicated at the outset of this article, here at The Exit Network, we ran out of time/money to research the matter to its conclusion. Therefore, we won’t toss around irresponsible assumptions about the characters of the people involved in spreading what appears to be a case of motivated reasoning—using the tools of science and (the logical fallacy of) appeal to authority to obtain a previously desired result. But we can ask…
The first question is, were the “experts” as seen on TV and who were quoted in our major newspapers actually stooges?
Here’s what we mean: Did they actually use their alleged expertise to critically read all of the studies? We see little actual evidence to suggest they have done so.
At this point, we can name names, including Dr. Tony Fauci.
There’s a 2005 study, in the Virology Journal, reporting that HCQ’s cousin, CQ (chloroquine) quickly kills SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome - coronavirus) in vitro (in a lab dish). Our current plague is SARS-CoV2. What we now call SARS-CoV1, like its successor, started in China. It started in 2002 and was under control by mid-2003.
Anthony Fauci has been employed at the NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) since 1968. He became Director of NIAID in 1984, while Ronald Reagan was President. NIAID is part of the NIH (National Institutes of Health). Fauci's been there through HIV/AIDS, swine flu, Ebola, and now three coronavirus outbreaks. So our question is this...
How did Dr. Fauci NOT know about the 2005 study in the Virology Journal?
The title of the study pretty much sums up the findings: "Chloroquine is a potent inhibitor of SARS coronavirus infection and spread."
And this study was included in The National Center for Biotechnology Information database, which is published by the NIH.
The real expertise of these "public figures of public health" seems to be their ability to divide and conquer the American people in the hopes of implementing a specific policy or agenda.
First, these insiders make the matter political. Then, they accuse the outsiders of politicizing the matter. They also call outsider criticism of their policies "tribalism" or "conspiracy theories."
Now you see why we call our politics the Conflict Machine.
The second question is, why didn’t the regime media uncover and expose all of these problems? If our tiny staff was able to do this much, how much more could major media companies have done?
And if the media doesn't do its job, what chance do you have? Consider, this is just one thread of a very complex web of issues regarding the disease. Then there's jobs, taxes, regulations, and foreign policy. It’s impossible for you to know enough about what the political class is up to. Frequently, it's just fear-based manipulation, such as…
Saddam Hussein’s vaunted nuclear weapons program didn’t exist, despite overwhelming establishment media reporting in collusion with government powers insisting that it did.
The Director of National Intelligence lied under oath to a Senator about the existence of a ubiquitous program of surveillance on American’s emails and phone calls. The director was never charged with perjury, and the media didn’t treat it as a scandal.
You could be forgiven for believing the media narrative about these things at the time they were reported. How were you supposed to know differently? What choice did you have but to join a political tribe when the members of the Fourth Estate were actively comforting the comfortable and afflicting the powerless?
We, at The Exit Network, recognize many of the tricks Conflict Machine actors use, which means we tend to know the right questions to ask even when the media is playing stenographer to the powerful instead of doing actual journalism.
Wait, you still haven’t proven HCQ works!
Let's be clear: HCQ is not a miracle. To be more precise than the so-called "experts," HCQ must be administered as part of a cocktail. And its greatest weakness seems to be that it lacks efficacy if administered after day seven of catching the disease. You want to get it on or before day five.
Additionally, the experts don't seem very "expert" to us. If "Fact-Checkers" actually did the job they're claiming to do (the one we tried to do here), they'd label as False the Fauci, CNN, et al. claims that there is no evidence that HCQ is part of a successful COVID-19 treatment. Consider…
THE NET SUM OF ALL THE RESEARCH: c19hcq.com reports (as of 5/10/21) that there are 289 studies, including 239 trials (treatment vs. control group) on the subject of HCQ for COVID-19. Taking the studies and reviewing the net results, there's a 65% symptom improvement observed in 26 early treatment trials, as well as a 72% treatment mortality improvement in 11 results.
SARS-CoV ALWAYS KILLED BY HCQ: There were, between 2005 and April, 2020, 42 studies (including the one in Virology that we wonder if Fauci missed) that showed HCQ (or its cousin, CQ) consistently killed coronavirus in vitro. In vitro essentially means in the lab. Testing the drug in human patients is in vivo. A review of these studies expressed a valid concern that in moving to the in vivo stage, dosages would have to be higher than humans could tolerate. That didn't turn out to be true. But the important point to notice is that CQ/HCQ consistently worked in vitro, so the idea that it might be useful in vivo wasn't some bizarre, out-of-left-field idea.
AMAZING ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE: There’s tremendous anecdotal evidence from real doctors treating real patients. Our current favorite examples are…
Dr. George Fareed and Dr. Brian Tyson's clinic has treated 4,385 patients. They report a .07 mortality rate using an HCQ treatment. Meanwhile their county, Imperial County, CA, reports a 3.4% mortality rate.
Then there's the aforementioned Dr. Didier Raoult, from l’Institut hospitalo-universitaire (IHU). He's the most highly cited microbiologist in Europe. He has been awarded the French Legion d’honneur and had a bacteria genus named in his honor, "Raoutella." He treated 1,061 patients on HCQ (for 10 days) and azithromycin (for five days). Sadly, eight patients died. But 91.7% had a positive outcome, and none of the patients reported arrhythmia or other heart-related side effects.
SIGNIFICANT OPERATIONAL STUDIES: We found five studies published in medical journals, mostly by doctors treating actual patients. These studies demonstrate that early in vivo use of a complete HCQ regimen prevents hospitalizations, and thus, deaths. Here they are…
COVID-19 outpatients: early risk-stratified treatment with zinc plus low-dose hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin: a retrospective case series study
This is a report out of New York State, published in December, 2020. But it was the first study released that focused on early treatment.
Of 141 treated patients, 2.8% (4) were hospitalised, compared with 15.4% (58) of 377 untreated patients. 0.7% (1 patient) in the treatment group died versus 3.4% (13 patients) in the untreated group. No cardiac side effects were observed.
Treatment with hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, and combination in patients hospitalized with COVID-19
A large, multi-hospital study of HCQ showed it was effective in a hospital chain in Michigan.
This study faced criticism. It was treated as a scandal that the patients were also given steroids (likely, for deadly inflammation). Two Henry Ford Health System executives wrote in an open letter that the persisting political climate has made any objective discussion about HCQ "impossible."
Effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 disease: A done and dusted deal?
A study published July 29, 2020 from Milan, which also tested HCQ and azithromycin vs. controls, and which eliminated some of the alleged Henry Ford study weaknesses. Result? A 66% reduction of risk with the drug combo when compared to controls.
Clinical outcomes after early ambulatory multidrug therapy for high-risk SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection
Another early treatment study. 922 patients evaluated. 320 treated with an HCQ regimen. Only six (1.9%) were hospitalized. Just one (0.3%) died.
"We conclude that early ambulatory (not hospitalized or pre-hospitalized), multidrug therapy is safe, feasible, and associated with low rates of hospitalization and death. Early treatment should be considered for high-risk patients as an emergency measure while we await randomized trials and guidelines for ambulatory management." That still hasn't happened.
Clinical outcomes of patients with mild COVID-19 following treatment with hydroxychloroquine in an outpatient setting
This was a “multicenter national retrospective-cohort study of 28,759 adults with COVID in Iran. Early outpatient HCQ reduced odds of hospitalization by 38% and reduced odds of death by 73%." This study is recent, issued April, 2021.
Study authors reported that the effects were maintained after adjusting for age, comorbidities, and diagnostic modality. No serious HCQ-related adverse drug reactions were reported. When HCQ was given early in the course of COVID-19, odds of hospitalization and death were reduced significantly regardless of age or comorbidities.
Journalism No More?
A long time ago, Mark Twain (or someone) said that if you didn't read the newspaper, you were uninformed, but if you did read it, then you were misinformed. Which is worse?
It's become fashionable to look down the nose at people who are very-Republican and very-Democrat. Their tribalistic behavior shows that they lack sophistication. But let me tell you what happens to you when you work on a report like this. You start to realize that these people are, to a partial degree, victims. The operators of the Conflict Machine know full well how to grind their minds with a steady diet of fear and scapegoating.
However, once you become aware of the news media's tactics—once you become "enlightened" by an article like this—you can better resist their manipulations.
Here's a tip: At the outset of a crisis in the headlines, you should assume that you're being lied to, until you can prove the headline to yourself. Do a little digging. You'll find that there are smart, honest people doing research just like you've discovered here.
Start by subscribing to our newsletter, at The Exit Network, because we have a lot of experience with how and when it's right to be suspicious of the headlines. And we'll tell you all about it.
Recommended Reading & Viewing
If you made it this far, thank you. We still cannot believe what we've written here. But we found another, well-written article. The author employs a reader-friendly, historical approach. He also explains how medical research worked until HCQ became "Donald Trump's drug."
Hydroxychloroquine: A Morality Tale by Norman Doidge, published in August, 2020.
In addition, this article originated out of an attempt to falsify Dr. Peter McCullough's very compelling testimony before a Texas Senate committee. Dr. McCullough has been on the front line treating real COVID-19 patients. He was already well-respected as a frequently published author of medical studies and instructor at Baylor. We encourage you to check out either the 19-minute video or the transcript of his testimony.
Jim Babka is the host of The Exit Network. Joanna Blaine contributed research and edited this piece. Our website is Coming Soon!
Long QT syndrome is a cardiac conduction abnormality not a pulmonary condition.
I asked my Doctor friend about this. Among other things he studied at John Hopkins. Here is his feedback:
"I can point to about a million studies on HCQ or CQ which suggest both in vitro and in vivo it won't work, in addition to the studies in the clinic showing no benefit in any setting for COVID patients, including as a prophylactic. That substack article is far from rigorous and I wouldn't call what they did "research". They had a conclusion they wanted to reach and wanted to provide an illusion they were unbiased. I've come to learn that people are real bad at both research and critical thinking (including some scientists).
Let's start with this little relevant nugget. VERO cells, which the Virol J 2005 paper relies upon as a model for infection, are not lung epithelial cells - they are kidney-derived. Apparently substack authors neglected this little piece of relevant science - https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2575-3
Just from a drug efficacy standpoint, if you don't see in vitro effects at nanomolar concentrations, you're going to be hard-pressed to see any effect in vivo, much less in patients. Notably, even in VERO or other surrogate in vitro models demonstrating anti-entry or anti-viral replication effect upon CQ or HCQ treatment, the effects only appear at micromolar concentrations."