In early March of this year, I read an interesting article by a Swiss physician*1 about his view on the management of the pandemic in his country. In this context, he referred, among other things, to the work of the Front Line Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), an association of U.S. critical care physicians who have been collecting, sharing, and publishing their experiences and therapeutic options for Covid19 since the beginning of the pandemic. They have built a global network during the past year. Interested in their work, I went to the page of FLCCC and researched their history, I learned about their approaches, possible drug therapies for various phases of the disease as well as its prevention. One thing seemed particularly relevant to me in the context of the reported experience, and that was the early treatment after a positive test: “test and treat,” instead of testing and waiting in quarantine for symptoms, which has been the common strategy since the beginning of this pandemic.
At first, I was very skeptical and insecure, because I had consciously not read or heard anything about these experiences and approaches in the media – especially about the early treatment option. As we all know, the internet can nowadays be a very dangerous place when you are looking for reliable information. Distinguishing “real from fake” is increasingly challenging and requires a great deal of care and checking. I checked all possible sources and scientific journals. I found that these people “really” exist, are physicians who in this particular case are intensively caring for Covid patients and have a huge interest in providing the best possible care for their patients and effectively helping to end this pandemic with solutions. Since the doctors are pro vaccination, are pro-mask protection, pro-social distancing rules, pro-treatment options, I classified them as a reputable source for myself in the area of modern medical information.
For some months now, the FLCCC has been experiencing enormous resistance to its work from regulating authorities. Social media play a decisive and influential role in this, which is very worrying. The above physicians have been recommending existing drugs since 2020 with a repurposing of their original benefit (so called repurposed drugs). Most of them seem to be patent-free. It is a tempting thought, if there has already been something effective as a therapy option for some or many (?) affected people, also regarding the whole world. I understand the recommendations not as an either-or option, but as an additional solution path in global pandemic management, in the solution area called AND. Nevertheless, the fronts of those “knowing” seem to be hardening more and more, fostering speculation and mistrust of many actors involved instead of enabling connections and a factual discussion and dialogue. The latter has obviously been lost to us more and more along the way in the last year.
The above observations raised questions and my attempts at finding explanations in the form of hypotheses. These range among others from “many questions on the efficacy of the medical recommendations, to power struggles between practitioners and a scientific elite, to competing funding interests for research, the impact of existing drugs on vaccine approvals, or a potential risk of their acceptance with possible alternatives.” Hypotheses have to be falsified, which I cannot do as a lay person in this complexity. However, I can share my perception and direct the attention to the above topic, also with regard to global solutions.
Quite striking is the reluctance of policymakers and the media to comment on successful treatment options for Covid19 or the rarity of reporting during this long period. I also might have overlooked all relevant information about it. A belief has been established that Covid19 in many cases is hardly treatable. Until now – at least until the roll-out of the vaccines – we have been dominated by the image that, in the worst case, you end up in intensive care and have to be on a ventilator, you die or you have to deal with the consequences of the disease for a long time. There was and is hardly any talk of early treatment which would be highly beneficial for those affected and the health care system. In this context, I am reminded of a report from April of this year about a Berlin doctor*2 (Ms. Ulrike Leimer-Lipke) who successfully treated all of her Covid patients (over 1,000 in number) during the past year at an early stage. The key word here is also “early”. She also used existing medications, knowing the clinical picture. Not to be underestimated is the care for her patients, instead of a long, lonely quarantine period with possible thoughts of fear, which can have enormous negative effects on the body and health. The report on the doctor was very impressive, but the findings seemed to quickly fade away, apparently also with us – the watching public.
Personally, my impression is that the FLCCC’s work initially focused “only” on experiences around effective treatments to do nothing less than save lives. They may have accidentally encountered the dynamics and rules of their own system in which they have operated for years. The effects could be tragic and they affect us all. This virus does enormously good detective work in various social and political areas (see also a virus uncovers – part 2). And it not only challenges us, it also challenges us to decide how we want to help shape our future – in this case also in the area of public health. As a complex system, the health care system has many wonderful and life-saving preventive and therapeutic options, but it also holds a great many contradictions in terms of patient welfare. In the last one and a half years of pandemic response, many health-related fields such as naturopathy, sports science, psychoneuroimmunology, psychology, and nutritional science have been completely sidelined. And we as humans, collectively, also seem to be more interested in supposedly simple solutions than in the diversity of solutions. Otherwise, we would have already asked more questions.
As a witness of this very “special time”, I have learned that this pandemic will only end globally and not locally or nationally. Therefore, any useful solutions should be in our collective interest.
Diversity of solutions instead of lack of alternatives.
Cologne, May 25th, 2021
Sources (only German):
2. Bericht über Berliner Hausärztin