by Lauri Richardson
More and more, any attempt at dialogue between ‘The Vaxxed’ and ‘The Unvaxxed’ seems to fall on deaf ears. The categories themselves are overly simplistic and can be pejorative. We could reorient ourselves to a conversation with common ground—supporting our doctors, so that they can support us in disease. I imagine everyone wants our doctors to use all the tools available when we, or our loved ones, get sick with Covid19.
Besides getting vaccinated and wearing masks, our public health officials have not offered much information about how we might minimize the impact of this disease. Vermont Commissioner of Health, Dr. Levine, continues to recommend fluids, Tylenol, and monitoring our blood oxygen level. No talk of early treatment for everyone, just seek emergency care immediately if you have trouble breathing.
Back in December of 2020, I was captivated by a passionate Senate testimony by Dr. Pierre Kory, Pulmonary and Critical Care specialist. Following Dr. Kory led me to the FLCCC, an alliance of practicing medical specialists who coalesced early in the pandemic to develop protocols to successfully treat Covid19 patients. They are a non-profit. Their website shares protocols with doctors, and lists over-the-counter supplements to help the public boost our chances of having a better outcome if we contract Covid19.
I have met with several physicians inquiring about early treatment for Covid19. Their response—fluids, Tylenol, and monitoring blood oxygen level. When asked about the early treatment drugs and supplements that the FLCCC recommends, they each told me that they weren’t allowed to prescribe them. While much could be done to keep people out of the hospital, many of the drugs and supplements, and even debate about them, have been suppressed.
I don’t expect you to take my word on this—I urge you to reach out to your own primary care physician with at least three questions.
• Has she/he ever prescribed FDA-approved, off-label drugs?
• When treating Covid19, is he/she prescribing FDA-approved, off-label drugs?
• If not, why not?
To the last question, I was told that the State of Vermont sent out a letter threatening disciplinary action, including suspension or revocation of medical licenses, if doctors attempt to treat their patients diagnosed with Covid19 with any of several promising, repurposed medicines, or deviate from the standard of care as defined by the Federation of State Medical Boards. Pharmacists received a similarly coercive letter, which pits two allies against one another. Neither doctors nor pharmacists have ever seen this kind of broad-brushed intrusion. Their hands have been figuratively tied by these explicit threats. Doctors have not been able to practice the art of medicine at a time when it is of such importance; they have only been allowed to use the officially sanctioned treatments which are almost exclusively novel and expensive medications they are not even familiar with. No inexpensive, off-label/off-patent drugs have been permissible, even those with remarkably good safety profiles.
Regardless of whether doctors would choose to treat with a repurposed, safe medication, or not, is irrelevant. And whether you, as a patient, would agree to the treatment, or not, is also not the pertinent issue. What is critical—the treatment plan should be, and has always been, a decision between doctors and their patients.
On January 5, 2022, the NIH updated their guidelines with a 365 page PDF titled ‘What’s New in the Guidelines’. On page 33, under the heading ‘Evolving Knowledge on Treatment for Covid 19’, the last paragraph states, “…it is important to stress that the rated treatment recommendations in these Guidelines should not be considered mandates. The choice of what to do or not to do for an individual patient is ultimately decided by the patient and their provider.”
It appears that the NIH is once again letting doctors be doctors. However, since Covid 19 treatment guidelines came quietly from the top down, knowledge of the NIH’s updated message may need to be voiced from the bottom up. Whether we are vaccinated or not—let’s focus on how we can support doctors, so they can treat us, and those we love, when in need.
The author is a resident of Williamsville, an unincorporated village in the Windham County town of Newfane.