covid-19

The Week I Hit My Breaking Point on Covid-19

time lapse photography of light on woman s head

This week a video was circulating through social media showing a group of doctors, dressed in lab coats, and standing in front of the Supreme Court. They were having what seemed to be a press conference where they communicated their message which boiled down to “This virus has a cure, it’s called hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and Zithromax. You don’t need to worry about Covid-19, there is a cure.”

The group is called “America’s Frontline Doctors”. The people pictured are in fact doctors who practice medicine. None are epidemiologists or immunologists.

America’s Frontline Doctors

On that same day, America’s Frontline Doctors met with Vice President Pence. President Trump himself tweeted the video which helped it become viral and made public statements supporting one of the doctors, Dr. Stella Immanuel, who made statements in support of hydroxychloroquine. There was also a press conference that Trump ended abruptly after a reporter asked him questions about one of the Frontline Doctors’ medical opinions that involved astral projection, demons, and alien DNA in vaccines.

Later that day, we learned that social media companies removed America’s Frontline Doctors video after it went viral on their platforms; the video violated their policies about spreading misinformation that could lead to harm. News organizations again went to health experts like Dr. Fauci who verified that hydroxychloroquine did not have any clinical evidence to support the claims of the doctors in the video.

I Wanted To See Both Sides…

The Frontline Doctors video was posted in a Facebook group where parents discuss what to do with our kids about school during this pandemic. The poster presented this video to us as evidence that we are alarmists about Covid-19. Of course, that post was polarizing and one credible person (a nurse) made the point that some of the doctors in the video made some good points. He also made the point that we really didn’t have the scientific chops to evaluate the evidence that the Frontline Doctors presented.

It was at this point that I thought it might be fun to try and analyze this situation in this blog post. I’m naturally a person who can see both sides of an issue. So I tracked down the video and the transcript and watched the full 45 minutes of the video. I read the transcript and I researched what news outlets were saying about the video. I also watched part of the news conference with Donald Trump.

I really wanted to believe. I wanted to sit here and write a balanced article looking at the merits and credibility of the actors involved. But, I just can’t.

In my office, I watched the entire video with this look of shock and horror plastered across my face. I was dumbfounded.

There was nothing about this news conference that appeared credible. After a well-spoken introduction by a politician who seemed reasonable, the doctors started talking and the entire spectacle devolved into a combative shouting match.

The gaggle of doctors, all absurdly dressed in white coats, and oddly standing in front of the Supreme Court building were fidgeting and squinting into the sun. Sometimes they would talk about Covid-19 but then they would digress into paranoid theories about the “Teacher’s Union” and the “Defund the Police” movement.

Dr. Immanuel dominated the press conference which was mainly about using Hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19. She attempted to refute the point that studies have not shown that this drug works by yelling “We don’t have time to wait for data!”.

What started for me as a fun premise for an article devolved into a sense of horror and dread. I just don’t see how any thinking person can watch this video, in it’s entirely, and believe that these doctors have any credibility at all. To say that ah “some of them made good points” is malpractice. It really is.

I know that no verbal description of this video can possibly communicate just how ridiculous it is. I really encourage you to watch the video for yourself and verify some of journalism that people have done on this group to get the full picture.

I will go on to talk more about their actual points and their credibility. But, honestly this video really did me in and it’s because right now we are trying to figure out whether it is safe to send our child back to school in just a few weeks.

We want to know that the people in charge are competent and have our family and our community’s best interests as their first priority. The fact that our president and the national government considers this video and the doctors in it to be valid in any way just completely undermines any faith that I have left in the authorities.

There was a brief moment in April when I thought that we were going to pull together as a country to get through this crisis. I really believed that by June we would be back online and that in the Fall life would be back to normal.

Instead, we got three weeks of pulling together followed by months of magical thinking by the White House, pressure to open schools and businesses without guidance, dangerous misinformation, protests about wearing masks, social unrest, and negligence.

Now, we have authoritarians who just demand that “we get it done” and open schools without having done any of the work that we expect the government to have done.

On top of that, we get this bizarre video castigating us for not opening fast enough when there is an unproven cure touted by a strange doctor who thinks demon sex causes genital herpes. From the president.

So do I feel confident that we send our kid back to school safely? No way, not with these people in charge. The people who have been pressuring us to “open up” are the people who met these “Frontline Doctors” and somehow believe them. They have no credibility at all and cannot be trusted.

Even though, it’s ridiculous I did the legwork on this project and so for what it’s worth here is what I found.

My Analysis

In the video, the Frontline Doctors set up this narrative that it was them vs the medical establishment embodied in Dr. Fauci. Specifically, the major issue was around the use of Hydroxychloroquine. Most of the other claims were just opinions. For instance, the Frontline Doctors believe that people shouldn’t be worried about Covid-19, that there is a conspiracy against doctors who want to use Hydroxychloroquine, and that schools should be open.

But, all the opinions ultimately rest on this notion of the efficacy of Hydroxychloroquine because if you believe that Covid-19 can be prevented just by using this simple drug then their other statements would be valid. This is because if it is true then it would be mean that the medical establishment was involved in a conspiracy to suppress that information. There would be no reason to panic or close schools and bars.

So, is it true? Here is Dr. Immanuel argument,

“Listen, let me just put a little bit of that. I have seen 350 patients and counting. Put them on hydroxychloroquine. They all got better. This is what I would say to all those studies, they had high doses, they were given to wrong patients. I will call them fake science. Any study that says hydroxychloroquine doesn’t work, is fake science and I want them to show me how it doesn’t work. How is it going to work for 350 patients for me and they’re all alive, and then somebody say it doesn’t work? Guys, all them studies, fake science.”

Dr. Stella Immanuel: (38:58)

Dr. Immanuel repeated this assertion over and over. The argument is that she has treated all her patients successfully and yet no randomized studies have found that the drug works and so the randomized studies must be fake.

Dr. Fauci simply said this in response,

“It’s not productive or helpful for me to be making judgments on right or wrong but what I can say is what I’ve said all along, that the overwhelming body of data from trials that were well run, randomized placebo controlled trials, indicate that hydroxychloroquine is not effective in treating coronavirus disease.”

Dr. Fauci, Newsweek

Fauci simply restates the fact that many well run studies were conducted and none have found evidence that hydroxychloroquine is effective.

Most people realize that when you are making a claim, the burden of proof is on the person making the claim. Dr. Immanuel claiming to have cured 350 is just not good enough. Good science requires randomized studies to prevent bias and to rule out other factors. We don’t know Dr. Immanuel’s patients, it’s possible that they would have all gotten better without the drug and it’s possible that most of them were never really sick in the first place. I would say that’s it’s extremely unlikely that Dr. Immanuel would see a 100% effective rate while randomized studies would find no evidence at all.

At the end of the day, it comes down to two things: credibility and standards.

Like I said before, it’s hard for me to see how anyone can think these doctors are credible. In addition to the clumsy “press conference” we have these doctors claiming that “doctors make medicine using DNA from aliens and that they’re trying to create a vaccine to make you immune from becoming religious” and that “gynecological problems like cysts and endometriosis are in fact caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches”.

This is disqualifying.

Ignoring the credibility issue, we can focus on standards. If you believe that anecdotal evidence like this is good enough then that’s fine. But, I know for me I expect doctors to provide information that is based on strong scientific evidence. This is a standard that institutions follow and it’s also the only way to actually know information about our world.

It appears that the Frontline Doctors simply reject the standard practice that produces reliable information. There is not much to say about this, it essentially comes down to judgment and best practices.

Conclusion

So no I don’t believe the Frontline Doctors and honestly, whether hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment is beside the point. Even with treatments, we need to address the underlying issue of this illness. Like the rest of the world.

What really alarms me is the motivation for pushing this agenda because these were not doctors or scientists dispassionately presenting an alternative point on view on a treatment for an illness. This was an all-out assault against what they see as an establishment that is out to get them. They go after the Teacher’s Union, Police Defunders, and the medical establishment. Here are a few direct quotes to communicate the combativeness of their messaging.

“I tell all of you doctors that are sitting down and watching Americans die. You’re like the good Nazi … the good one, the good Germans that watched Jews get killed and you did not speak up. If they come after me, they threaten me. They’ve threatened to … I mean, I’ve gotten all kinds of threats. Or they’re going to report me to the bots. I say, you know what? I don’t care. I’m not going to let Americans die. And if this is the hill where I get nailed on, I will get nailed on it. I don’t care. You can report me to the bots, you can kill me, you can do whatever, but I’m not going to let Americans die.”

Dr. Stella Immanuel: (09:35)

“Finally, the barrier, and I hate to say this, but the barrier to getting our kids back in school is not going to be the science, it’s going to be the national unions, the teachers union, the National Education Association, other groups who are going to demand money. And listen, I think that it’s fine to give people money for PPE and different things in the classroom. But some of their demands are really ridiculous. They’re talking about, where I’m from in California, the UTLA, which is United Teachers Union of Los Angeles, is demanding that we defund the police. What does that have to do with education? They’re demanding that they stop or they shut all private charter schools, privately funded charter schools. These are the schools that are actually getting the kids educated.”

Dr. Bob Hamilton: (04:07)

“Can I say something. My message to Dr. Anthony Fauci is when is the last time you put a stethoscope on a patient? That when you start seeing patients like we see on a daily basis, you will understand the frustration that we feel. You need to start feeling for American people like we, the frontline doctors, feel. I need to start realizing that. They are listening to you. And if they are going to you, you got to give them a message of hope. Got to give them a message that goes with what you already know that hydroxychloroquine works.”

Dr. Stella Immanuel: (20:30)

These are the people that the President of the United States is relying on for his information on the pandemic. Trump himself help this group go viral, he describes Dr. Immanuel as “spectacular”, he dismisses health experts like Dr. Fauci, he has given very mixed messages to people about masks and other obvious health measures, and he has taken hydroxychloroquine himself. It’s clear where the national government sits on this issue.

The only conclusion I can make from all this is that we are not safe in our country. Authorities like Donald Trump are either incompetent, willfully ignorant, or they are intentionally trying to destroy us.

References

Fox News’ Best COVID-19 Truthers Unite to Promote Trump’s Favorite Drug, Rolling Stone

‘Spectacular’: Trump praises doctor who dismissed face masks after viral video, The Guardian

Fauci, Birx Say Hydroxychloroquine Ha No Benefit Against COVID-19, as Scientists Blast Study Touted by Trump, Newsweek

Who Are ‘America’s Frontline Doctors’ and Dr. Stella Immanuel?, Snopes

America’s Frontline Doctors SCOTUS Press Conference Transcript, Archive.Today

America’s Frontline Doctors Summit, Tea Party Patriots Action

Frontline Doctors Video Transcription, Archive.Today

Matt has worked as a data analyst, writer, counselor, and business owner for a total of 20 years. Since the start of his career he's been fascinated by technology and passionate about helping people use modern technology to hack their work and their lives.

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