A Groundbreaking ‘Second Opinion’
A fascinating five-hour hearing, convened on Capitol Hill last week by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis, featured some of the country’s leading physicians and scientists discussing the benefits and risks of Covid-19 vaccines; the government’s response to the pandemic; vaccine mandates; censorship of dissenting views; and alternative treatments for the disease.
Sen. Johnson, a critic of the government’s failure to treat Covid-19 outside of hospitals, billed the event as a “long-overdue second opinion.”
For Americans hungry for answers to some of their most burning questions about the pandemic, this event bore the potential of a watershed moment. The roundtable discussion offered an opportunity to hear from some of the most erudite and accomplished hands-on doctors and scientists, eager to share their cumulative experience in treating hundreds of thousands of Covid patients since the pandemic began.
Sen. Johnson introduced the panelists as individuals who have put their careers and reputations on the line by venturing outside the tightly-controlled government narrative about Covid-related issues. Many of them have been mocked and maligned for their non-mainstream views. He implored the public “to listen with an open mind and with respect” to individuals who have paid a heavy price “professionally and reputationally” to follow their conscience.
Johnson in his opening remarks noted some startling facts. Despite lockdowns, masking and vaccine mandates, there have thus far been 889,000 Covid deaths in the United States. “That means the United States ranks 22nd in the world in deaths per million, at 2,575,” he said. By comparison, Sweden—castigated by the world press for not locking down—ranks 63rd in deaths per million, with 1,514.
“Two years into the pandemic, we can look back and see that many of our policies have failed. The guidelines from the NIH, if you test positive, are still the same; to essentially do nothing,” Johnson said. “Go home. Isolate yourself in fear. And pray you don’t require hospitalization.”
Despite ever-shifting government advisories, it became clear that no deviation from the establishment’s narrative would be tolerated, Sen. Johnson said. “As the goalposts were moving, different viewpoints were being crushed. The internet was used to censor discussion and vilify anyone with a different opinion.”
The five-hour hearing countered that censorship by airing a host of controversial issues such as the superiority of natural immunity over vaccine immunity, and federal agencies’ alleged disregard for safety norms governing the vaccines’ production.
Some panelists challenged the “safe and effective” mantra espoused by vaccine proponents. They spoke of a growing body of evidence indicating that despite reducing severity of disease for many people, the vaccines evince a waning efficacy and have been linked to an increasing number of serious side effects.
In addition, speaker after speaker called out public health leaders for keeping effective treatments beyond the reach of skilled doctors and their ill patients, leading to thousands dying for lack of treatment. Even the government distribution of FDA-approved monoclonal antibody infusion, universally regarded as the most effective frontline treatment, has currently been discontinued.
‘Where There is Risk, There Must Be Choice’
“I’m speaking to you not only as a physician and scientist, but also as a father and grandfather,” said virologist Dr. Richard Malone, inventor of the mRNA platform on which Covid vaccines are based. “I’m also a Covid survivor.”
“Our public policies managing Covid have had a particularly strong adverse effect on our children,” he attested. He said in his view the vaccine mandates for children are “completely unjustified,” because children are “statistically at zero risk” of serious adverse effects from Covid, while the vaccines pose risks to their immediate and long term health.
The scientist noted a high rate of infection caused by the Omicron variant among the vaccinated population. Consequently, “mandating these vaccines makes no sense. Even if every man, woman, and child were vaccinated, they cannot achieve herd immunity,” he said.
“Furthermore, the vaccines are not completely safe. Evidence has accumulated that the vaccines have led to myocarditis in young men and can alter women’s monthly cycles, suggesting potential reproductive issues. The full nature of the short and long-term risks remain uncharacterized. Usually it takes us many years to fully understand the risk of vaccines. There is so much we simply don’t know at this point.”
“Where there is risk, there must be choice,” Dr. Malone insisted.
Renowned cardiologist and internist Dr. Peter McCullough, author of 500 peer-reviewed articles in leading medical journals, elaborated on the theme of serious side effects experienced by some recipients of the vaccine. He became emotional when he cited papers presented to FDA vaccine advisory boards indicating that for young people, particularly boys, the risk of getting myocarditis from the vaccines is far greater than the risks from Covid-19.
One of the authoritative papers was SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Vaccination-Associated Myocarditis in Children Ages 12-17: A Stratified National Database Analysis. Through Jan. 14, Dr. McCullough said, there were more than 24,000 cases of myocarditis or pericarditis reported to the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS)website.
“Under no circumstances,” Dr. McCullough said, “should a young person ever receive one of these vaccines.”
Censorship and Intimidation
Dr. McCullough published one of the first pieces about early treatment of Covid19 in the American Journal of Medicine in August 2020. Until then, six months into the pandemic, he said, not a single government agency, hospital or academic institution had published a treatment protocol for Covid.
“I saw a trend starting in April, May and June,” he recalled, “where it became clear that anything we were doing to try to help patients with early treatment was receiving a chill, and the chill was coming through academic institutions through the medical literature.
Dr. McCullough went on to note that to this day, “there is not a single hospital in America that can hold itself up as a center for excellence for treating Covid-19. There is no hospital that has an early treatment program or even has the continuity of care for patients [who transition] from the inpatient to the outpatient setting.”
Dr. McCullough asked if anyone on the panel and in the audience “had personally witnessed censorship, intimidation or professional reprisal as a result of your advocacy for patients.”
A broad show of hands was his answer. “About 80 percent. I want this to be recorded,” Dr. McCullough said of his informal poll.
He himself has suffered an extreme form of retaliation by the medical establishment for challenging the official narrative. He was fired from his position as department head in a prestigious hospital and from his post as editor of an international medical journal. “I was stripped of almost every professional title I had,” he said.
McCullough, as well as many of the doctors and scientists on the panel said they have had their privileges suspended at the hospitals where they treat Covid patients. Almost all have been threatened with having their licenses revoked for prescribing ivermectin and allegedly “spreading misinformation” about the pandemic. Some are fighting lawsuits over charges of malpractice for their use of the drug.
Early Treatment Game-Changer Trashed by FDA
One of the panelists who raised his hand in response to Dr. McCullough’s asking who had suffered harassment or intimidation was Yale epidemiologist Dr. Harvey Risch, one of the first voices in the medical community to call for early treatment of Covid with hydroxychloroquine.
Dr. Risch was mocked and marginalized but he plowed on, writing op-eds in Newsweek, and making appearances on Fox News, where he espoused HCQ’s use as a safe, effective Covid treatment. He was corroborated by other doctors such as Dr. Zev Zelenko and Drs. Brian Tyson and George Fareed who supplied data from their own medical practices to prove HCQ’s effectiveness, but it didn’t help.
Dr. Risch, one of two Orthodox Jewish doctors on the panel, told the hearing that HCQ was cast aside by the FDA, which cited irrelevant studies of hospitalized patients who are past the early treatment stage. Dr. Risch had the FDA’s website information blown up on a chart for participants to see. The website made it clear that its statements advising that HCQ is not effective were based on studies that used the drug for later-stage Covid.
“Early Covid and later-stage Covid are two distinct diseases—the first is a flu, the second is pulmonary pneumonia,” said Dr. Risch. “They call for very different treatments and by now everyone knows this. Yet two years into the pandemic, the FDA’s advisories remain exactly the same.
Their information is “outright fraudulent,” Dr. Risch said, noting that “ten solid early treatment trials show HCQ reduced hospitalizations by 50 percent, and mortality by 75 percent—scientific proof of its efficacy.”
My Brother’s Keeper
Dr. Cole related a true-life anecdote, recalling an urgent phone call he got about a year ago from “a high-risk individual in his fifties, a diabetic. “I have Covid. My oxygen level is 86. I have excruciating pain in my lungs, I’m on the way to the ER. Help me.”
“I told him, ‘You’re going to the pharmacy. Don’t go to the ER.’ I called in some early treatment drugs… which shall not be named,” Dr. Cole said with a smile. “Six hours later, he called to say his excruciating lung pain was now a 2 out of 10, instead of a 9 out of 10.” That wasn’t surprising as I know the mechanisms of the drugs I prescribed.
“The next morning he calls and says the pain is down by 80 percent and the oxygen saturation is now 98 percent. “That’s fantastic,” I tell him, “you sounds like a different person.”
“That individual,” said Dr. Cole, “is my brother. Yes, I am my brother’s keeper. “And early treatment works,” he said, adding that “we know how to treat an upper respiratory infection, which is how SARS-CoV-2 presents in its initial stage. We have a week of intervention after Covid hits where we can stop the viral replication. Beyond that, the virus enters a different phase of the disease and becomes an inflammatory one—and we know with this particular disease, a clotting one.”
Early treatment doctors at the hearing recounted, one after another, their care of thousands of patients, very few of whom were hospitalized or died.
“I’ve lost very few patients but when it happens, it’s because treatment was unfortunately started too late. The golden window is the first 72 hours,” said Dr. McCullough.
Dr. Cole shared that his politically incorrect views about early treatment with drugs like ivermectin had cost him a third of his business, when two insurance companies he had been using refused to continue their contract with him due to his “unprofessional conduct” in prescribing ivermectin. “The [medical licensing boards] threaten us, and I’m fighting four lawsuits in different states,” he said, “but we’re doing what we have to do, acting from compassion, empathy and the responsibility to help patients.”
Dr. Richard Urso of Houston, an ophthalmologist recounted how he, like Dr. Bowden, was forced into doctoring people who were sick when no doctor would see them. “They were just languishing at home, getting sicker. I couldn’t watch it. I wasn’t going to let it happen. All my colleagues here know what I’m talking about.”
Dr. Urso’s career and reputation were threatened when he was reported for malpractice to the state medical board in Nov. 2020 for prescribing hydroxychloroquine to treat several Covid patients. After an investigation, the medical board found he had done nothing that qualifies as malpractice and dismissed the charges.
Dr. Malone, too, had had complaints lodged against him at medical licensing boards for airing views “dangerous to the public” about vaccines and vaccine injury. He says his experience, based on recent travels across the United States and to Europe, is that this form of harassment against doctors espousing views that run counter to medical orthodoxy is now rampant globally.
Interestingly, the complaints almost never arise from a rank and file member of society, he says, but from a “hospitalist”—an administrator or senior doctor representing a hospital. Which smacks of something “coordinated,” he said.
Forced to Stand by As Patients Died
One of the most moving speakers at the hearing was Dr. Paul Marik, M.D., an elderly Virginia-based critical care doctor and highly published scientist who discovered a cure for sepsis, a life-threatening infection that often proves fatal.
Dr. Marik lost his thirty-five-year job as an ICU specialist in the hospital where “my unit had a mortality rate fifty percent lower than those of my colleagues,” he said. He resigned under pressure, after refusing to comply with new hospital protocols. The revised regulations forbade him from continuing to use drugs that had saved many of his patients’ lives, including ivermectin, which has one of the safest profile of any drug.
Strangely, the newly banned drugs were permitted to be used for other illnesses and diseases, Dr. Marik told the hearing—just not for Covid-19.
Ironically, the same authorities that made this policy-change continued to prescribe remdesivir, which the ICU physician says is toxic for the kidneys and has not been shown in any study to improve mortality. Remdesivir was rejected from an Ebola trial after its toxicity caused mortality rates to soar. The drug, which costs about $3000 per treatment, is nevertheless used in hospital protocols across the country for gravely ill Covid patients.
Currently, said Dr. Marik, pharmacists are routinely refusing to fill early treatment prescriptions for ivermectin or fluvoximine, having been scared away by media coverage and government warnings.
“The question is why. Why have cheap, safe, and effective drugs been ignored in favor of those that don’t help?” he asked. “Why won’t they let doctors be doctors?” He described painful moments in the ICU when he was no longer permitted to practice medicine as his judgment and experience dictated, as he had done all his life. Barred from using medications that could save his patients’ lives, he could only watch as they struggled and began to decline.
“I was forced to stand by idly and watch them die,” he said, his voice breaking.
Dr. Marik has co-founded, with NY-based Dr. Pierre Kory and Dr. Fred Wagshul of Ohio, the Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), which is devoted to educating and promoting early treatment.
Dr. Pierre Kory, a pulmonologist and early treatment advocate, addressed government policies that over the last 20 years have financially entwined the federal regulatory bodies with the pharmaceutical industry, by enabling FDA, NIH and CDC to collect “user fees” from drug companies that seek agency approval.
As an example of such entanglement, since 1992, the FDA has been funded in large part by the same pharmaceutical companies the agency’s job is to regulate. According to its website, $2.7 billion of the FDA’s $5.9 budget came from industry user fees. The FDA’s site also discloses that industry user fees account for 65 percent of its “Human Drugs regulatory activities.”
Investigative journalist reporter Caroline Chen reported in her expose, FDA Repays Industry by Rushing Risky Drugs to Market, that “the more that the FDA relied on industry fees to pay for drug reviews, the more it showed an inclination towards approval of that industry’s products.”
“You don’t survive as a senior official at the FDA unless you’re pro-industry,” former FDA medical team leader Dr. Thomas Marciniak told Chen. “The industry will lobby to get somebody else in there if they don’t like you.”
The results are policies formulated by these regulatory agencies that lead to the placing of pharmaceutical industry interests ahead of the welfare of U.S citizens,” said Dr. Kory. He talked about the phenomenon of a federal regulatory body like the CDC being “captured” by the pharmaceutical industry and carrying out its bidding,” as in the CDC’s issuing a memo in August 2020 and August 2021 instructing the nation’s physicians and pharmacists not to use generic medicines (as opposed to brand name ones.)”
“So now you have pharmacists across the land refusing to fill valid prescriptions for some of the safest medications, after being manipulated and brainwashed into thinking the FDA has to authorize the use of repurposed generic drugs, which is completely false,” Dr. Kory said. “This is against the law, it’s absurd and it has to stop.”
Sen. Johnson elaborated on Dr. Kory’s point. “Symbolic of a government beholden to pharmaceutical interests are the drugs approved so farπ in this pandemic. As anyone can see, they are all new and high-priced, while inexpensive generics have been soundly rejected.”
The Senator concluded the 5-hour hearing by appealing to the viewing public “to listen with an open mind, share it with your friends and appreciate that the individuals who came forward today have paid a significant price in doing so.”
Dr. Peter McCullough contested the claim by the CDC and academic institutions that vaccination is associated with “a decrease in hospitalization.”
In recent days, he told the hearing, the CDC has cited five papers that show vaccination is associated with a reduction in hospitalization, even in the Omicron wave. “But it’s only in U.S. hospitals,” he said. “Not in South Africa, not in Germany, not in the Denmark, not in the U.K. and not in Israel.”
“Israel, one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, is loaded with vaccinated people in the hospital with Covid. So is Germany, and so is the United Kingdom, and so elsewhere.”
He said the claim that the vaccines somehow reduce hospitalization without reducing infection and spread is not supported by genuine data. “These hospitals are not telling us why the “Covid” patients—whether vaccinated or unvaccinated—are hospitalized,” he said. “We’ve had multiple officials come out and tell us that 40 to 60 percent of the people coming to the hospital who test positive for Covid are not there for Covid, but for other medical reasons.”
Pathologist Dr. Ryan Cole, CEO and medical director of Cole Diagnostics of Garden City, Idaho, said vaccinated people are not only getting the Omicron variant, but are getting it at a higher rate than the unvaccinated, especially if they received two or three shots.
“The vaccines do not treat Omicron. This is not the Covid-19 that we know from previous strains. This is the “funny uncle” that does everything differently. Omicron buries into the nasal passages and the throat, regions of the body that are not reached by the Covid vaccine. This is why mandates are irrelevant and moot.”
Fear of Hospitalization
The rigid enforcement of Covid protocols in hospitals that exclude some of the safest repurposed drugs has come at the expense not only of patient health, but of a long-cherished culture of respect for the doctor-patient relationship, speakers at the Senate hearing said. Hospitals, once regarded by patients as safe havens, now inspire fear.
One doctor described hospitals as a desperate last resort for the Covid-infected, who are isolated from their families, have no access to their family doctor, and are given drugs that are not effective or make things worse.
“The result is a terror of being hospitalized,” said Dr. Mary Bowden, a Houston ear, nose, and throat specialist who said that in the last six months, circumstances forced her to become “an early treatment advocate.”
“People sick with Covid didn’t have a doctor to go to. In desperation they came to me, an ENT, saying “My doctor won’t see me, please help me.” I did a great deal of research and came to the conclusion that early intervention was crucial. I became their primary care physician and was using a combination of medications, including monoclonal antibodies. Sadly we can’t get those anymore in Houston.”
Dr. Bowden said her experience is that “a lot of hospitals won’t treat Covid patients, they won’t give them oxygen treatments, they won’t give steroids, won’t even give vitamins that can strengthen the patient’s system. People have become terrified of going to the hospital for good reason.”
“So I’ve kind of become the ER,” Dr. Bowden told the panel. “I’m giving high-dose IV steroids, I’m giving IV vitamin C…The bottom line is I am keeping people out of the hospital. I’ve kept 2000 people from being hospitalized and if you look at current statistics, twenty of those people should be dead—and they’re not.”
Despite her success, Bowden lost her privileges at Houston’s Methodist Hospital for espousing ivermectin.