By Jane M. Orient, M.D.
The dictionary definition of “hype” is a deception or put-on, or promotional publicity of an extravagant or contrived kind. But regarding medical advances, it might be used to refer to hope.
Hope, or “false hope,” is something doctors are not supposed to give patients regarding a non-established treatment for a disease, especially one deemed to be incurable.
Hope is not needed if an outcome is assured. Hope is what sustains people when the outlook appears bleak. The alternative is despair.
Regarding COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other established national and international agencies define what is hype or false hope. If “hype,” also called “harmful misinformation,” appears on a website or social media, it will be disappeared, cancelled, or labeled as dangerous, as people are referred to WHO or CDC websites.
Remember that most entities promoting panic and despair have an ulterior motive. They are selling a remedy, the only thing that they say can save you from certain disaster.
WHO, CDC, et al., and the medical organizations and physicians who trust their authority are saying that COVID-19 is incurable. We must remain locked down, separated, and masked. If we catch it, we must go home, self-isolate, and come to hospital if we can’t breathe. We can take some over-the-counter medications for fever and pain, but there is nothing to prescribe, they say.
Once in the hospital, we will be separated from family, friends, clergy, and independent doctors. If we’re about to die, there may be a ventilator available for us. Our chance of surviving then may be 50 percent—or less. The hospital we are in might have a clinical trial for which we are eligible. We’ll be assigned to get—or not get—a drug that they think might work. Or perhaps we’ll get remdesivir on an FDA Emergency Use Authorization. The government has committed to buy 3 months’ worth of production at $3,120 per 5-day course of treatment (500,000 doses). If each course has six doses, that’s about $260 million. If we survive—remdesivir doesn’t seem to affect that—it will save us about four days in the hospital.
That’s real money, not just hype.
The latest “hype” to warn us about concerns quercetin. According to Medpage Today, the hype is “comparable to early data on hydroxychloroquine” (HCQ). This plant flavonoid, found in capers and green tea, shares one mechanism of action with HCQ. It helps zinc get into cells, where it interferes with the replication of the virus that causes COVID-19. Quercetin is commonly available over the counter. Some doctors recommend it because our government protectors (who are remdesivir promoters) have made it very difficult for doctors to prescribe or pharmacists to dispense the old, cheap drug HCQ.
If someone is promising a unique, secret, overly expensive, 100 percent effective cure-all, that sounds like hype. But doctors saying that “I have seen evidence that HCQ might help you, especially if taken early, and in my experience patients have quickly gotten better” is the practice of the art of medicine. It gives patients hope, and often relief. And now a controlled study at Henry Ford Hospital has shown that HCQ cuts the risk of death in hospitalized patients in half.
Promoting vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin A, elderberry syrup, selenium, and many other available, reasonably priced preventatives and remedies might also be called “hype”—by WHO and those who are selling expensive novel drugs and universal vaccination as the only hope.
Is there hype about randomized controlled trials (RCTs)? They can be designed to fail, as by giving treatment too late or in an overdose that increases death or adverse effects, or they can fabricate data. Studies that had to be retracted were used to stop further research and treatment with HCQ.
Is there hype about vaccines? Trials race on, but they are tainted with ethical questions. For example, demonstrators in South Africa carried signs saying “We are NOT guinea pigs” and “Gates we are not your lab rats.” The African Centre for Biodiversity raised many concerns about the vaccine trial, such as withholding crucial safety information. The controversial Louis Farrakhan warns against taking the vaccine pushed by white multibillionaire Bill Gates.
Do the lives of black African Africans matter if we badly need research results?
Our hope for humanity depends on honest, ethical research and freedom to choose our own care, even if self-anointed U.S. or global authorities demean our communications as “hype.”
Jane M. Orient, M.D. obtained her undergraduate degrees in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and her M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1974. She completed an internal medicine residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital and University of Arizona Affiliated Hospitals and then became an Instructor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and a staff physician at the Tucson Veterans Administration Hospital. She has been in solo private practice since 1981 and has served as Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) since 1989. She is currently president of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. She was chairman of the Public Health Committee of the Pima County (Arizona) Medical Society from 1988 until 2018. She is the author of YOUR Doctor Is Not In: Healthy Skepticism about National Healthcare, and the second through fifth editions of Sapira’s Art and Science of Bedside Diagnosis published by Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.