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Surviving COVID: Why poorer nations have lower death rates

Note: Dr. Vliet is a member of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, AAPS.

CoronaplannedemicThe COVID death rate in the United States is one of the highest in the world, even with our advanced medical care delivery and resources. Many less affluent countries have death rates 20 times lower than the U.S., even with fewer hospitals, doctors, nurses and high-tech equipment.

What is the common factor that accounts for the marked difference in death rates?

It is quite simply this: Other countries use early outpatient treatment with widely available antiviral medicines, begun at the first signs of symptoms, usually without waiting extra days for test results to confirm the physician's clinical diagnosis.

The late-stage treatment model promoted by Dr. Fauci and FDA's Dr. Hahn has been for U.S. patients to be sent home to self-quarantine until symptoms worsened, and then go into the hospital when seriously ill with respiratory distress and heart damage. Only then do patients get offered medication, oxygen support, steroids, anti-coagulants and others that typically don't work as well at this critical illness stage.

But home therapy could prevent thousands of hospitalizations and deaths, according to a just-published article from the respected American Journal of Medicine. The U.S. urgently needs to implement this early successful model. Lead author Peter McCullough, M.D., a cardiologist at Baylor, one of the most widely published physicians in America, is not just theorizing. He is actually treating COVID patients at home.

Dr. McCullough's recommendation would clearly save lives using cheap, safe, FDA-approved medicines – hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) with azithromycin or doxycycline, possibly ivermectin or colchicine, inhaled budesomide or oral steroids, home oxygen concentrators, plus supplemental zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D.

The supply of HCQ has been ramped up to handle its use in early treatment of COVID, but we have millions of doses in the Strategic National Stockpile deteriorating in government warehouses – vital medicine that is not being distributed because, for political reasons, doctors are still not prescribing it for COVID-19 outpatients.

Why don't Americans have the freedom to use HCQ as in other countries? The FDA's false narrative about HCQ causing harm to outpatients has led to more deaths with unprecedented restrictions on physicians' off-label prescribing rights imposed by state governors, medical boards and pharmacy boards. Thirty-seven states still restrict HCQ.

There are other major forces pushing against home-based treatment that have resulted in our high death rate. These coordinated efforts are amplified by the mainstream media megaphone perpetuating the constant drumbeat of fear to keep the public afraid of returning to normal activities.

  • The hospital lobby is preventing outpatient treatment to maintain hospital income. The issues raised in Avik Roy's classic 2013 column have been made worse during the COVID-19 pandemic because hospitals receive significantly higher payments for COVID patients, especially those who go on a ventilator.
  • Big Pharma pushes for new high-cost medicines still on patent – for example, Gilead's major push to discredit HCQ and favor remdesivir, its costly experimental drug.
  • Enormous financial conflicts exist within the NIH, CDC and FDA – all of whom get payments from pharmaceutical companies and vaccine manufacturers, as well as income from patents on new vaccine adjuvants and processes. Dr. McCullough's editorial, "The Great Gamble of Covid-19 Vaccine Development," explained this multibillion-dollar financial incentive to preserve vaccine windfall profits in wealthy countries.
  • Big Medicine, as shown clearly by the AMA's actions to falsely malign HCQ, no longer advocates for physicians and patients, but works to protect its revenue from government contracts.
  • Academic medical centers all have research programs dependent on NIH grants. Many academic physicians have been "muzzled" by their institutions from speaking out because of threatened loss of funding.

In contrast, the forces pushing for early, home-based treatment are few in number, smaller and do not have financial clout or a media megaphone.

  • One medical organization, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), has stood against the juggernaut preventing access to HCQ with many efforts, including a lawsuit against FDA.
  • Front-line doctors, primarily independent physicians not employed by hospitals or contracted with insurance companies that dictate treatment protocols doctors are allowed to use.
  • Grassroots citizens groups such as the Tea Party Patriots, Open Texas, America's Black Robe Regiment and a few others.
  • A few national political leaders willing to advocate publicly for early and widespread access to HCQ: President Trump, trade adviser Peter Navarro, Sen. Ron Johnson, Reps. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., and Louie Gohmert, R-Texas.

So what do patients need to do NOW to advocate for early home treatment if they get sick? Here are 10 ACTION STEPS to take:

  1. PRINT Dr. McCullough's article and read about your options before you get sick.
  2. COPY Dr. McCullough's article and give to your doctors and family members.
  3. ASK your doctor now: "If I get sick with COVID, will you treat me at home with medicines already available for off-label use?"
  4. CHECK with your pharmacist: "Will you dispense HCQ if I get sick with COVID and my doctor prescribes it?"
  5. If your doctor and pharmacist will not prescribe or dispense HCQ, start now to explore other options – next four steps.
  6. READ about telemedicine options to see what is available for early intervention and treatment at home.
  7. IDENTIFY the telemedicine services that fit your needs and budget, and keep a list handy in case you get sick.
  8. SEARCH for direct pay primary care medical practices who are more likely to tailor treatment to your individual needs. You need a trusted physician who shares your views.
  9. LOCATE independent pharmacies who will dispense the medicines you need and ship to you – they may be in another state.
  10. ACT to stay healthy! Adequate sleep, exercise preferably outdoors NOT wearing a mask, prayer and meditation (immune boosters!), eat healthy diet avoiding excess sugars and processed foods, take vitamins such as zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D, and immune boosting anti-viral supplements such as quercetin, elderberry, NAC and others.

The bottom line: "If you get COVID-19, you don't want to be admitted to hospital. The death rate for patients sick enough to be admitted is quite high. And you will probably be a prisoner with no visits from family, clergy, or the doctor of your choice. Patients need a trusted physician who shares their views," said Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of AAPS.

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