Jan. 12, 2022 / Editorial

Editorial by Rep. Dawn Keefer (R- York/Cumberland)

Where is the treatment? Almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic and people remain paralyzed by fear, many not even questioning the lack of effective preventative or universal outpatient treatment for the virus. Meanwhile, doctors in Europe, Central America, South America, India and East Asia are successfully reducing COVID-19 deaths by approximately 85% by utilizing what is called “sequenced multidrug therapy.” This treatment regimen includes a combination of “nutraceutical bundles” (Vitamins D and C, plus zinc and quercetin), hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin, azithromycin (for the treatment of secondary bacterial infections), steroids (for lung inflammation,) and anticoagulants (for prevention of blood clots). This is just a demonstration of some of the effective options that could be considered by doctors if their hands weren’t tied by politics and bureaucracy.

What’s worse is this same fear has blinded most from seeing, what appears to be, an intentional effort to obstruct the use of more than two dozen repurposed U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs even though they’re having huge success throughout the world, and in many places in the United States in the treatment of COVID-19. Never underestimate the power of fear.

Hearing regularly from physicians and COVID-19 patients expressing frustration in the inability to access treatment, I introduced House Bill 1741. This bill would allow physicians and pharmacists to prescribe and dispense drugs already approved by the FDA for off-label use in the treatment of coronavirus infections, without penalty from licensing boards. In December, the House Health Committee, on which I serve, held a hearing on my bill and COVID-19 treatments to better understand the challenges. You can watch that hearing here.

We learned doctors are, in fact, being investigated for prescribing repurposed FDA-approved drugs to treat COVID-19. We also learned pharmacists are being instructed not to fill prescriptions for specific drugs in the treatment of COVID-19 by their corporate leaders, pharmacy benefit managers and associations. The explanations given for refusing prescription fulfillment mirrors the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) explanation that these repurposed drugs shouldn’t be used for COVID-19 due to limited studies. This explanation might be readily accepted if the NIH’s existing therapies in the COVID-19 standard of care did not possess limited studies and FDA black-box warnings for safety.

Health care has never taken a one-size-fits-all approach. Doctors explained the foundational patient-doctor relationship is absent in the standard of care for COVID-19 treatment, yet few question the divergence from these fundamental public health principles. Every person, regardless of their health situation or prior infection, was instructed to get vaccinated, and the primary reason, we were told, was to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Then, on Aug. 5, 2021, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky explained vaccinations do not stop the spread of COVID-19, but are still necessary, as it is believed the data will show vaccines prevent death and severe cases of COVID-19. This, by definition, is a therapeutic, not a vaccine. In the meantime, at an approximate 70% vaccination rate in Pennsylvania, thousands of vaccinated and unvaccinated people continue to contract COVID-19 daily, hospitals are at capacity and government, in concert with corporate medicine, refuses to acknowledge effective, preventative and outpatient treatment.

The monoclonal antibody therapies approved for outpatient COVID-19 treatment are reserved for only those at highest risk for hospitalization or death. Desperate constituents not qualifying for these treatments contact me regularly pleading for help, as they were simply advised to self-isolate, rest and hydrate and go to the hospital when they can’t breathe. It is outrageous people would be given no treatment alternatives and told to just “wait it out” after enduring relentless campaigns that have kept them in a perpetual state of panic.

I asked doctors participating in the hearing to compare the COVID-19 standard of care to the standard of care for other illnesses. They explained the standard of care established for an illness by the NIH is a guideline that they are told should not usurp the personal knowledge or judgement of an attending physician. Conversely, we were told most health care systems are requiring doctors to strictly adhere to a rigid COVID-19 standard of care.

There was a full-blown collective attack campaign on the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 based on a now retracted Lancet study which was funded by the manufacturer of remdesivir. When ivermectin prescriptions began to soar in the U.S., the same type of attack campaign was levied. Despite being a Noble Prize-winning drug, successfully used for more than 40 years, and having an exemplary safety profile, ivermectin was cast as a horse de-wormer by the media and relentlessly disparaged. Both drugs have been successfully used for decades to prevent and treat malaria and, more recently, used to relieve the symptoms of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases like arthritis and lupus.

The state physician general wouldn’t even concede that taking supplements could help to prevent or aid in the recovery of COVID-19, claiming “more rigorous study is needed,” even with decades of research demonstrating the benefits of vitamins D, C and Zinc with the immune system. Standing strong with the NIH “dos and don’ts,” hospitals are giving patients treatment documents listing high dose vitamins as treatments they will not provide for COVID-19. These are just a few examples of the intentional obstruction of safe and effective COVID-19 treatments that could decrease hospitalizations, long-haul COVID and deaths and give people peace of mind.

Power and politics have hijacked medicine and it has been devastating for hundreds of thousands of people. Think it hasn’t? Last month, emails from Dr. Anthony Fauci and NIH Director Francis Collins, obtained through a Freedom Of Information Act request, revealed the two schemed to silence and defame scientists from Harvard, Oxford and Stanford who authored the Great Barrington Declaration in late 2020. Their declaration called for a shift in pandemic policy to focus on the protection of high-risk populations, and among other things, delineated measurable and irreparable harms of lockdown mandates which ran counter to Fauci and Collins policy. One of the emails from Collins read, “The proposal from the three fringe epidemiologists who met with the secretary seems to be getting a lot of attention … There needs to be a quick and devastating published take down of its premises …” “Don’t worry, I got this,” Fauci replied. The media took Fauci’s bait and a public smear campaign ensued, without mercy, against the scientists, despite one being a Noble Prize winner.

Make no mistake, just as it was wrong-headed policy that killed thousands in Pennsylvania nursing homes in 2020, it is illogical policy thwarting life-saving treatments, and unnecessarily compounding the fatal impacts of COVID-19.

Representative Dawn Keefer
92nd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives