SCIENCE AND DATA ALERT!
Top Scientist Left Stunned by 'Very Odd' Hydroxychloroquine Senate Hearing
So here’s a quicky (or quickie, whichever you prefer) for your weekend enjoyment. This is a post about a piece published recently in Newsweek Magazine (11/20/2020) with the headline above about a recent Senate hearing in which this Dr. Ashish K. Jha, Dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University, a “top physician” according to Newsweek had been left “stunned” by what he heard. In the article this “top physician” (obviously a very important and of course very, very smart person who knows what he’s talking about so you should listen to him) bloviates about how this hearing was political and how the other three physicians who gave testimony, all of whom supported the use of hydroxychloroquine, didn’t know what they were talking about.
I will not comment on the merits of hydroxychloroquine as I am not qualified to do so. There are as many doctors saying they’ve actually used it with success as there are those who say it’s a scam (some if not many of these naysayers including Dr. Jha have never actually treated a COVID patient). And I also try to avoid any politicization of this already hyper-politicized topic but I will note that there were two studies published, one in the New England Journal of Medicine and one in the Lancet, two premiere medical journals, that everybody heard about several months ago that said not only was hydroxy not of value but it in fact caused heart problems and was dangerous and therefore should not be used in this pandemic. In what was a heretofore unprecedented move, both journals retracted those papers about two weeks after publication (but nobody heard about that) as the data used in the studies was determined to be fraudulent (and agenda driven). That's a fact.
I will comment, however, on the obvious and undeniable hypocrisy of this Dr. Jha’s statements and by extension the greater hypocrisy of a large part of this country that seems to have an agenda concerning how we “fight” this virus.
The article starts off by telling us how this “top physician” had been left "stunned" and that he found it to be a “very, very odd day” that they were even discussing hydroxy. Jha went on to inject politics by saying “The hearing was a testament to how politicized science has become.” claiming the other three (out of four) experts were stacked by the Republican Senate, but I’ll leave that for others to discuss.
Now here’s where it gets interesting. Jha says “I shared evidence of studies that have failed to find benefit of HCQ.” The emphasis is mine and here’s why. I have written (as have many others) of the evidence of studies that have failed to find benefit of mask wearing. In fact, every randomized controlled trial (the gold standard of medicine) ever done over the last 40 plus years (including the Danish mask study just done this year – next post) fails to show benefit of mask wearing. So these sentences are essentially identical and yet we are constantly told the science on masks is settled and that we “know” masks are a game-changer (shout out Governor Murphy) so we must wear them and if we don’t we are stupid, selfish, science-denying grandma-killers. Yet the same exact sentence applied to this drug is used as proof that it is worthless and we shouldn’t waste any more time discussing it. How do you explain that? Jha goes on to say that “evidence matters”. I could not agree more. That’s what we call actual SCIENCE AND DATA. But the evidence for masks is at least as weak as that for hydroxy (actually weaker) and yet mask wearing is literally shoved in your face every minute of the day. What’s up with that?
Newsweek then goes on to inform us that “Several large studies, including those commissioned by the World Health Organization and the U.S. National Institutes of Health, have found no evidence to suggest that hydroxychloroquine, when used with or without the antibiotic azithromycin, helps to fight the virus in hospitalized patients.” Well, I guess that settles that…except…the WHO says in their own Pandemic Preparedness publication of October 2019 that there is no evidence that masks work (more on this in another post) and as I have posted about before, the CDC published a paper on their own website in May of this year stating the same thing; that masks don't work. So again, you can’t use a certain criteria to support your position, but then ignore that same exact criteria when it doesn’t suit your narrative. Well actually I guess you can, after all we’re seeing it right here.
Newsweek continues to educate us by telling us (referring to studies showing benefits of hydroxy) “These studies were observational in nature, which Jha argued meant they were not of high-quality, and thus the results should be treated with caution.” Well then that’s settled. According to this very important and highlighted expert Dr. Jha, observational studies are not of high quality and the results should be treated with caution. The only problem with that is that every single article or proclamation you have heard or read over the last several months about how we “know” masks work is based on observational studies. Oops. By the way, I whole-heartedly agree with Dr. Jha, observational studies are (and have always been recognized as) garbage science. Observational studies at best give you a working hypothesis (guess) as to what’s going on and should then lead to actual scientific endeavor (randomized controlled trials) to determine if what you think you observed is true.
So let’s be clear. Here we are presented with an article in a major “news” publication (it’s right there in their name) telling us why hydroxychloroquine is bad (and by extension why those who support its use are bad). First, presentation of evidence of studies failing to show benefit, then a negation of studies showing evidence of benefit because they are observational in nature, which are not high-quality studies. Yet everything you’ve been told about how we “know” masks work during this pandemic is based on observational studies and whenever actual randomized controlled trials were run (in the history of ever) to determine whether masks protect against respiratory virus spread (including, now according to the Danish study, coronavirus spread) they show no evidence that they work. So forget masks, hydroxy, and politics. Just on the structural merits of what I have described here, how do you explain that? It’s called intellectual dishonesty. It’s called hypocrisy. Maybe you should take a closer look at what you think you “know” about this pandemic. Should you wear a mask? You do you. Should we demand honesty and transparency and accept nothing less from those attempting to control our lives? I think so. You?