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The politicization of medicine in our race for a Novel Coronavirus cure

By Charlotte B. Cerminaro
web posted February 1, 2021

Listening to recent testimony from the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee on the state of the pandemic, the striking contrast between politics, media propaganda and actual medical science was on full display. The scene has been re-enacted many times over this past year and would be just another argument about truth versus myth and money, except people's lives are at stake. On a very fundamental level, the physical and mental well-being of billions of humans, including their ability to feed and shelter their families, is threatened by a failure to listen to reason. The panic button has been pushed too many times by politicians, the media, and big pharmaceutical companies pushed by government grants. The simple, straightforward testimony of physicians and researchers on the frontlines of medical care is easily drowned out by name-calling, labeling and preaching, by those who benefit from general public fear and ignorance. It's not only tiresome, but a damaging, expensive and often fatal game. The power of emotional and political manipulation takes its toll on reality and those who need it most. 

Since the early days of the pandemic many healthcare workers noted that anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant therapy for patients hospitalized with respiratory distress was effective, cost- and life-saving--often eliminating the need for ventilator assistance and longer hospital stays--with better outcomes. Despite reports from E.R. physicians and researchers on these outcomes, this relatively simple treatment remained a mystery and a well-kept secret for many months. The odd, almost parasitic behavior of the virus prompted healthcare workers in numerous, large-scale studies to use Ivermectin as prophylaxis. This antiviral, antiparasitic Nobel Prize winning drug was among many repurposed, FDA approved medications that were part of the arsenal in some of the hardest hit Latin American countries. 

The most convincing testimony in the SHS meeting was by Pierre Kory, MD, a professor of Critical Care Medicine at St. Luke's and a frontline healthcare provider throughout the pandemic. His remarks were from personal experience and medical research and he was clearly fighting back strong emotions, the result of witnessing needless death and destruction. Despite the remarkable safety and efficacy of several FDA approved, repurposed drugs, the NIH and CDC refused to publish or promote them, while the world held its breath for the non-FDA approved, EUA (emergency use authorization) only vaccines. The reason? Those repurposed drugs are FDA approved for many other viral infections, but not COVID-19. Why weren't these promising medications heavily researched and promoted, while waiting for longer-term safety and efficacy results on vaccines? Most vaccines require years of research before they are widely distributed to the general public. Many lifesaving drugs for the deadliest diseases are held back for decades, the terminally ill volunteers denied emergency use even after safety and efficacy are proven. 

According to Dr. Kory, significant research has already proven that Ivermectin is as effective for COVID prevention as it is for other viral and parasitic prophylaxis. Doctors and nurses working in ICU facilities throughout Latin America relied on it for their own protection: there were several published studies, including one with 1,600 healthcare workers taking Ivermectin and exposed to COVID who did not become ill, whereas the 1,600 who didn't receive Ivermectin, 58% became ill. Why have millions of people been kept in the dark, denied access to this Nobel Prize winning prevention? Instead, we have lockdowns, high infection rates, ICUs at full capacity and vulnerable populations at significant risk of mortality. 

Before I fail to state the obvious, there are several biotech companies that already have vaccines which are proven effective against many varieties of coronavirus, including the one that causes COVID-19. They have been used for years, they have the same means of antigen production (weakened, altered or killed virus) and are safe. The pandemic panic has rushed an entirely new vector for viral antibody production into global distribution, with only months (not years) of data on safety. With millions of people in a state of fear (and little knowledge or access to other modes of prevention) they are putting a new technology in their bodies, assuming it's the same as their yearly influenza vaccine. It's not. 

The new BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are made from modified Messenger RNA (mRNA) which is the single strand copy responsible for replicating the proteins encoded in double-stranded DNA. Specifically, the RNA segments coding for 2 separate viral "spike" proteins, which are then separated by a pair of amino acids. The molecule is then wrapped in a fatty acid "nano-capsule" to stabilize it and hold it in an unbonded state until it reaches the target--the host cell. The fatty acids break down readily, whereupon our own cells bind nucleic acid to the viral RNA, transcribe its code and synthesize the viral proteins within our cellular ribosomes. The presence of viral proteins within our cells causes the immune system to mount an attack against them. The issue isn't one of changing our own DNA, as some people fear, but of a slight mistake within our own immune system. Two common immune problems (severe allergic reactions, such as anaphylaxis, and autoimmune reactions) are simply immune overreactions to a perceived threat. Since our own cells are producing the antigen, even a slight immune anomaly could potentially turn antibodies against area of production (autoimmune) or producing IgE antibodies instead of IgM and IgG causes allergic reactions. 

It is possible that these new vaccines are as safe as any other. However, there is no way to know this and for the millions of people who have already taken the vaccination, only time will tell. Companies that produce vaccines are rarely held accountable for severe problems and since these have no track record beyond the past few months, we are gambling with our own immune systems and the quick mutations of this virus. In the meantime, politics have been the determining factor in treatment protocol and health outcomes, and media-fueled panic has driven an even bigger wedge between scientific reasoning and popular myth. We mustn't be the pawns in this deadly game of chance. ESR

Charlotte B. Cerminaro is a Juilliard-trained classical musician who, in addition to being a studio and orchestral musician, enjoys writing and has a degree in Molecular Biology. © 2021

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