MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Guest post by Christian Lehmann

It’s the end of February. We see the first death, in the Oise department, near Paris, of a French citizen who has not recently travelled abroad. For doctors concerned about what is happening in China, this is the red alert. In spite of of the little notices posted by the health minister, Agnes Buzyn, at airports, the coronavirus has made it onto French soil. Nobody knows at that point how it will spread. Almost nobody, apart from those responsible for it, yet knows that France has completely run down its stocks of masks. Doctors themselves do know that the health service has only held out, for as long as it has, on the backs of its care personnel. Some are assessing the scale of what is to come.

The announcement by Didier Raoult about the spectacular effectiveness of a synthetic antimalarial, chloroquine, has brought enormous relief, followed immediately for many of us health professionals by growing doubts about an accumulation of errors: Raoult denies any toxicity, urges people to “fall upon” a medication requiring sensitive handling. When we locate the Chinese article on which Didier Raoult is basing his crisis communication, we are stupefied. No need for specialised knowledge in statistical methodology to understand that there is something seriously wrong. No numerical data. Nobody knows what dosage has been given, to what type of patient, nor how many have been treated. The article has not been “peer reviewed”, that is to say reviewed by professional equals; decoded, it has the effect of a simple announcement. So of course at this chaotic time we tell ourselves that, given a revelation of such importance, the Chinese wanted to act as quickly as possible, to inform the whole world. And Didier Raoult, who routinely advises, as he explains with delicious modesty, the Chinese, « the world’s best virologists », has probably been entitled to the first fruits of this revelation.

On Youtube, on 28 February, he posts a weird interview, “Why would the Chinese be mistaken?”, in which he repeatedly takes up his interviewer with obvious irritation. “No, that’s not the question that you should be asking me. You should be asking me….” An informal group of doctors and tweeters pass around the link. We are rubbing our eyes in disbelief. What Didier Raoult is passing off as an interview is nothing more then an audience accorded to one of his media aides. We advise him, sarcastically, to make a professional cut of the video before broadcasting it. An hour later the video disappears and returns in a more professional form which could create the illusion of a genuine interview. And rapidly, in the Press which is beginning to turn its microphones towards the Professor from Marseille, he modifies his stance, without ever acknowledging the radical changes.

Chloroquine, spectacular and miraculous only yesterday, disappears as if by magic, replaced from one day to the next by hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), a different medicine, less common. Though its chemical structure is close to that of the antimalarial medication, hydroxychloroquine is used primarily in rheumatic conditions such as rheumatoid polyarthritis, or immune conditions such as lupus. So at least it isn’t lying around in large quantities in medicine cabinets. And its cardiac toxicity, very real, is slightly lower then that of chloroquine. Didier Raoult puts forward HCQ as an immense discovery, continuing in his usual manner to ridicule his detractors. “The doctors who criticise me are neither in my field nor up to my weight”. He flays the inaction of embittered petty health officials, only fit to follow the diktats of the authorities, who, bogged down in their catastrophic crisis management, dare not intervene. And his posturing as a refractory Gaul, a loudmouth taking on the system, gains sympathy, from those to whom he gives hope, from those who understand that the State does not tell them everything, and from those looking for a hero to fit in with their stereotypes: the man on his own against the establishment, the White Knight taking on Big Pharma, the Hippocratic colossus besieged by hordes of soulless ants.

No one among those who hold out their microphones to him, not one asks him the question which we are all asking, GPs, cardiologists, pharmaceutical specialists, emergency specialists, resuscitation specialists – by what sleight of hand has Didier Raoult exchanged his miracle medicine, in 48 hours, openly and publicly? And how is it that no one has noticed the sleight-of-hand? Has this man who makes such a big deal of his image on social networks suddenly become aware of the risk of being confronted about chloroquine with a justifiable public outcry and with deaths by self-medication?

While the World Health Organisation is sounding alarm bells, in the context of overall mistrust with regard to scientific opinion, of confrontation with regard to government, of growing awareness ( belated and sometimes disproportionate) of the influence of Big Pharma, and as the initial fear gives way to real panic for some with the registration of each new case, Didier Raoult piles up Facebook likes, fans, sites to his glory. And for us, fearful, begins the long registration of flagrant mistruths delivered as revealed truths, which this professor will never have the honestly to set right.

For Didier Raoult, a minimum of intellectual integrity would demand that he admits having changed horses in midstream. That he admits that the concern of his despised detractors was well founded, with respect to chloroquine to which many have access without knowing its dangers ( Nivaquine is very often used in suicides). And, because Didier Raoult withdraws nothing, he continues to stash away all the profits of his media coverage. Every supporter of the Wise Man of Marseille piles in with testimony. Their brother, sister, uncle, the father-in-law of their hairdresser has been taking the Professor’s medicine ( Which one? ) for eight years in Africa and has never had a problem, so that’s the real proof that his detractors are just jealous, or, even worse, backed by “the lobbies”.

And untiringly we repeat the fundamental truths:

  • Yes chloroquine has existed for years
  • Yes it is widely used
  • But for a different treatment, the prevention of malaria
  • And in dosages 5 to 10 times smaller
  • And in large dosages it causes cardiac arrest
  • And it has never been effective in fighting a virus
  • Not this virus nor any other
  • And the same is true for hydroxychloroquine
  • In fact it’s rather the opposite

In fact what is being patiently stated by the upholders of the scientific method is very counter-intuitive, almost inaudible, because they are telling worried and disorientated people, who have put their trust and their hope in one man, that in his assertions………nothing makes sense.

10 Responses to A census of untruths about chloroquine ( part 2 )

  • Thank you. I find this counterpoint very instructive.

  • chloroquine, 3 weeks ago has been proven not to work for majority. Actually, they (medical researchers) thought it worked for some but now believe those survived regardless of chloroquine protocol and will most likely have life altering after-(a)effects from it. When people are on death bed, even if me, please try everything, I will be a guinea pig for this at last breaths. Hopefully, scientists will find a cure with available concoctions already made. My chiropractor says I only need iv vitamin C, even though he is against anything related to needles and vaccines.

    • your chiro seems to be an idiot

      • I think he is as well, an idiot. I have never used him though, he is my facebook chiropractor, we have a mutual link, long last school friendship. Actually, I have never seen a chiropractor in my 50+ yrs. Still love to read his posts, have bitten by tongue 99% of time. Maybe I should practice that 99% here as well. But than again, I have learned a lot here, regardless of political leanings. My other science blog I peruse leans one way as well. Never knew until last year, on both, will still read regardless and keep an open mind.

  • According to some it is Zinc that is effective at interfering with the replication of the virus, but in order to be transported into the cell it needs a zinc ionophore. All forms of chloroquine act as a zinc ionophore. But there are other less toxic zinc ionophores available, like quercitin.

    So if someone was deficient in zinc, none of the ionophores including chloroquine would be of any benefit. Zinc deficiency is pretty common so that might account for why many doctors see poor results from chloroquine.

    The most serious harm occurs from the over-reaction of the immune system (cytokine storm) to the virus. CBD oil and ascorbic acid can modulate the immune system.

  • One of the proposed mechanisms of action for hydroxychloroquine is that it is an ionophore that can increase cellular of compounds such as zinc, which have antiviral properties. This was discussed here:

    https://youtu.be/U7F1cnWup9M

    While Raoult’s methods seem shoddy, I wonder if hydroxychloroquine might be helpful with zinc? There is at least one ongoing study looking at this:

    https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04335084

    • These studies need to be done, though most of them probably won’t result in a useful treatment; as a rule, promising ideas usually prove to be no more than that.

      Though I am surprised that the study that you referenced was approved as it is an open-label, phase II study with no control group, which leaves it open to bias and will limit its power to show any effects. Surely it wouldn’t have been difficult to redesign it with randomisation and a control group?

    • Thanks Kyle

      I had heard seen the science explained previously at another website, diagrams are sometimes helpful.

      Here is a testimony from a doctor that was using the HCQ/zinc combination early on.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVs_EWVCVPc
      (youtube replication of news reporting)

  • Didier Raoult is big on himself – very, very big!

    Trump league.

    Trump is big on Raoult too. He muses that we might try chucking in some bleach on top.

    Yeah!

    Go Raoult! Go Trump!

    Go jump. You megalomanic jerks.

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