Israel congratulated itself on coming through the Wuhan virus pandemic with flying colors. By the end of June, with only 300 plus deaths, we were king of the world. We were allowed to go about our normal daily lives. And then we were hit again. Big time. The death rate rocketed to over 1200.
Why? What did we do differently?
They said we were partying, getting married, gathering to pray, going to the beach. But we were doing all that before. So why the difference?
We were never given the answer. Instead, they decided to appoint a health czar, called him the Projector, gave him the keys to the castle, including budget, ministries, laboratories, hospitals, the health clinics, even the army, to flatten the second curve. The politicians promised to stay in the background.
First, The Projector turned the country into traffic light zones. Those with the highest infection rate were zoned red and required to be quarantined. Made sense, until it was discovered that the vast majority of the red zones, fully 80%, were either Arab or Orthodox towns, and that caused resistance - never mind the high morbidity in those sectors.
These places, The Projector said, must be placed in immediate lockdown. Then all hell let loose. Politics reared its inevitable head. Knesset meetings became riots. Factions which the Prime Minister depended for his support, and those that opposed him, began banging on his door. He could not win so he did what any politician would do. He threw The Projector’s plan out the window and decreed a national lockdown of three weeks coinciding with the Jewish High Holidays encompassing Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.
It began on the Friday afternoon before the traditional New Year’s eve to prevent mass family gatherings. But innovative defiant Israelis moved Rosh Hashanah festivities a day earlier and held their family gatherings on Thursday night instead of Friday. Brilliant.
Thousands of Jews rushed to test centers before heading to Ben Gurion Airport and flying from red Israel to green pastures rather than remain in lockdown for weeks. Some booked indefinite one way tickets.
Lots of TV chatter. Lots of ink splashed in pages of news media.
Silence about the biggest mystery of all.
Why are more people becoming seriously ill and dying than before?
Why do we now have over 1,300 deaths when, in the peak of the first curve, our mortality rate was just over 300? Why the over 400% difference?
It isn’t due to greater testing because people got sick, even without testing, in the first wave.
Officials and pundits talk endlessly about testing, social distancing, lockdown, but little else. They are worried about hospitals and laboratories becoming overloaded with seriously infected patients.
But no one is talking about how to stop early stage sufferers from deteriorating into hospitalization and worse.
Are our local doctors and clinics being allowed to do everything possible to stop early stage patients from becoming hospitalized and dying?
The answer is no. They are not. In fact, these first-line physicians, who have intimate professional contact with their patients, are being prevented from what might lead to treating them successfully.
Were Israeli doctors prescribing something in the first wave that prevented massive mortality figures they are not prescribing now?
The answer is yes.
Local doctors and clinics are being prevented from prescribing a drug that worked before, but is banned now. The drug that dare not speak its name is hydroxychloroquine. Medical experts are forbidden on social media to mention its name. Some have been fired from their professional for daring to suggest that this drug, in combination with others, has saved countless lives.
Now that ban has been placed on Israeli local physicians, and more people are dying.
HCQ is a drug that received global official status use for a number of illnesses and diseases. It has a remarkable sixty-year safety record. But overnight, it became the devil’s potion.
Many hundreds of doctors and thousands of patients who swear to its efficacy when used on early stage sufferers in the right dose and in combination with other medications such as zinc and azithromycin, have been pilloried and banned from expressing their data and from sharing their experiences.
Professional physicians, in intimate contact with their private patients, are treated like heretics.
The authorities say HCQ failed latestage clinical trials. They claim it left a few patients with heart irregularities, a claim refuted by many experts, including Dr. Harvey Risch, Professor of Epidemiology at the Yale School of Medicine, who is highly critical about how badly the clinical trials were conducted.
After studying the clinical trials, he concluded, among the things, that they applied the drug incorrectly, even in dangerously high dosages, often not in combination with other drugs, to patients who had little chance of surviving with any drug.
Professor Risch is an ardent advocate for the application of HCQ in combination with other medications to early stage patients, as is Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, an Orthodox American physician, who came up with the Zelenko Protocol which details, for local doctors and clinics dealing with early stage Covid patients, how to prescribe and monitor patients starting in the first five days of contracting the coronavirus.
Professor Risch records and analyses the successes and failures of treating early stage Covid patients and is convinced in his judgment that HCQ, in combination with other drugs, is a safe and efficient method of preventing the debilitating effect of the coronavirus.
This early stage treatment was pioneered successfully in France by virologist Didier Raoult, who successfully treated hundreds of Covid patients, before he was pilloried as being a quack by Big Pharma.
Hydroxychloroquine was banned for Covid patients by the World Health Organization on the basis of these failed late stage trials. But the WHO recommends paracetamol, a drug that has not undergone clinical trials for Covid patients, and is known to have serious side effects. This is not only hypocritical, but highly suspect. And the WHO itself is suspect - as Donald Trump said in his UN speech.
Which begs the question. Why the difference?
This troubling discrepancy was brought home to me when I interviewed Dr. Rob Elens, a local physician with a busy clinic in the south of Holland.
Dr. Elens had an initial twenty-five patients who came down with Covid. They were prescribed with the Dutch health authorities recommendation, namely paracetamol and isolation.
The condition of all twenty-five worsened. All were hospitalized. Twelve of his patients died.
Dr. Elens, a compassionate doctor, was gravely concerned that something better could have saved his patients’ lives. So he did what any self-respecting doctor would do. He went in search of the science and came across the Zelenko Protocol, a tried and tested derivative of several doctors’ experiences in helping their early stage patients get over Covid.
So, when his next infected patient came along he offered him the choice of the official track or the drug combination of zinc, HCQ and azithromycin. Dr. Elens monitored the patient hourly and was pleased to discover that his patient responded well to the treatment and recovered completely within three days.
The doctor repeated the same medication in the required doses with his next nine early stage patients. All recovered quickly. But when he reported his successful cases to the Dutch medical authorities he received a warning to desist.
In my video “Covid, and the drug that dare not speak its name,” the now defiant Dr. Elens responded by saying of his patients, “Better illegally alive, than legally dead.”
A June comparative study, carried out into Covid-19 patients by the Saudi national fever clinics, concluded that early intervention of a HCQ-based therapy in mild to moderate COVID-19 patients was associated with lower odds of hospitalization, ICU admission and/or death.
And why, if it is so important to prevent our hospital system from being overwhelmed, are we not having a public conversation on the prevention of the use of a drug that dare not speak its name, but about which so many physicians and renowned specialists swear to its efficacy?
This is a legitimate questions that demands answers at such a critical time.
Barry Shaw, Senior Associate, Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.