The first expert was Dr Pierre Kory who is the Medical Director, Trauma & Life Support Center, Critical Care Service Chief and Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & PublicHealth. He is part of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Working Group (FLCCC) that I’ve been reporting on.
He said that, of the first 100 patients the group has treated in their ICUs, using a combination of steroids, vitamin C and blood-thinners, “nearly all survived" (the two who died were in their 80s with underlying advanced chronic medical conditions.) None of them spent long on ventilators or became ventilator dependent. Most had short hospital stays and were discharged in general good health.” He made the point that “just giving supportive care is not working. It is failing. Giving the corticosteroid is lifesaving but should only be done when patients become hospitalised. Critical care experts in Italy and Spain [who are following this approach] are showing big reductions in mortality.”
The FLCCC use a combination of the steroid methylprednisolone, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and heparin. “Vitamin C is dismissed by most doctors because they rarely understand vitamins,’ said Kory. “Those of us who use it know its physiology and potency. It is not only a vitamin; it acts as a stress hormone when fighting off infections. It is essential and reinforces the benefits of the steroid. We strongly believe that it should always be used along with steroids. It prevents the development of leaky blood vessels in the lungs, preventing lung failure from developing.”
Senator Ron Johnson, chair of the meeting, later says that this information changes everything. If Covid-19 need not be fatal - that transforms conversations about ending lockdown. We’ll return to both Senator Johnson’s closing words, as well as those of Dr Kory, towards the end.
Next were the testimonies of John Iaonnidis Professor of Medicine, of Health Research and Policy and of Biomedical Data Science, at Stanford University School of Medicine and Dr Scott Atlas, MD from the Hoover Institution of Stanford University and its Working Group on Health Care Policy.
Prof Iaonnidis explained why staying in lockdown until an effective vaccine treatment is developed, is lunacy. It may never happen, he says. He makes many other good points in the filmed section.
In the film section below Dr Scott Atlas explains why a total isolation policy is not the answer, since it prevents broad population immunity. “The goal of the strict isolation [to control the overload on the health service] has been accomplished.” he says. “The population develops immunity while acquiring antibodies. That is the main purpose of widespread vaccination - to develop herd immunity. In New York more than 24% have antibodies. Infected people are the immediately available vehicle for establishing widespread immunity among low risk people.”
ANTIBODY POSITIVE - good or bad?
He is not worried about many people testing antibody positive, which he sees as a good thing, or about the rumours that being antibody positive doesn’t guarantee you won’t get infected again. : “While we do not know with certainty that antibodies stop infection,” he says. “it is expected it will. That is based on decades of virology science, including experience with other coronaviruses and respiratory viruses. That's why scientists are hopeful about using covid-19 antibodies to treat patients. That’s the whole basis for the drive to develop a vaccine.” In other words, you can’t have it both ways: saying that natural antibody immunity isn’t a guarantee and that we’ll vaccinate you with antibodies.
He recommends those with mild symptoms of infection, self-isolate and that those under 18, in good health, who have virtually no risk, should go back to school because: “Socialising represents the opportunity to promote herd immunity in those with low risk.” However, he stresses that it is vital to: “Protect the most at risk, such as those in nursing homes.”
He does not consider widespread testing necessary. “Prioritising testing is important only for nursing homes, healthcare workers and patients in hospitals with respiratory infections and fever.”
Next, we heard from Dr David Katz, a leading Preventive Medicine specialist and globally recognized authority on lifestyle medicine. He is the founding director of Yale University’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center (1998-2019); Past President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine; President and Founder of the non-profit True Health Initiative; and Founder and CEO of Diet ID, Inc.
ANTIBODY TESTING – WHY?
On the subject of testing he asks: “Why are we doing it? To find out how many get it? Looks to be one in five. Of those, how many of those develop symptoms? Of those how many need to be hospitalised? Of those how many need ICUs, and what are the risk factors involved, such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and age? Gathering this information can be done with a small cross-section of the population but one that is big enough to give us actionable information. It’s much more doable than widespread testing and could be done in days.”
Dr Katz then goes on to talk about that small percentage of the people with these chronic metabolic diseases, who don’t have the resilience to cope with the infection and so are more likely to die. The good news is that it is possible to reverse these disorders with lifestyle medicine, so they have a far better chance of surviving.
Senator James Lankford then asked Dr Kory about his advice to avoid intubation (that is putting people on mechanical ventilation) and followed up by asking Dr Katz “Are you suggesting that you are less likely to develop severe symptoms if you are doing exercise, taking vitamins, eating more healthily and losing weight ? Is that what you’re suggesting?” Dr Katz agreed.
Finally, Senator Ron Johnson asked for closing statements, given here from Dr David Katz and Dr Pierre Kory, urging that “we support doctors like Dr Kory. The sooner we end up with an effective therapy or a cure, the sooner we can break the back of this horrible disease.”
Why does the public in the UK never get to hear conversations between experts like this one? The Senate hearing was live-streamed. Anyone could listen in. Why not do the same with SAGE or any other group of experts presenting data that will decide the most effective and least damaging ways to move forward?