Horowitz: The media misses the lesson of Africa and COVID in plain sight

News & Politics

There is nowhere for the priests of Covidstan to run or hide from the failure of their prized injections. Cases in Europe are worse than ever, and America has now racked up more deaths than in 2020, when zero vaccines existed. But reality can hit these people in the face and they will still never admit that all of the human interventions failed.

As Europe battles its fifth wave and even East Asian countries begin to face serious waves of the virus, the AP wrote an article last week claiming that something “mysterious” is going on in much of continental Africa, as these African nations appear to have dodged the pandemic.

But there is something “mysterious” going on in Africa that is puzzling scientists, said Wafaa El-Sadr, chair of global health at Columbia University. “Africa doesn’t have the vaccines and the resources to fight COVID-19 that they have in Europe and the U.S., but somehow they seem to be doing better,” she said.
Fewer than 6% of people in Africa are vaccinated. For months, the WHO has described Africa as “one of the least affected regions in the world” in its weekly pandemic reports.

No kidding! Contrast that with Europe, where cases are now worse than at any time in the U.S., despite nearly every adult vaccinated in many continental European countries.

Perhaps the Africans don’t have enough money to pay for the rope to hang themselves with leaky vaccines, counterproductive lockdowns, and failed therapeutics like remdesivir. They can’t afford to spend $3,000 per dose to have people’s kidneys fail and instead are using cheap anti-malaria and anti-parasitic drugs.

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Yes, it’s true that Africans are younger and the countries’ data is less reliable, but that cannot account for the fact that COVID deaths have been nearly nonexistent in many of these countries. Those explanations offered by the AP simply cannot bridge the gap.

Curiously, the AP posits that perhaps “past infection with parasitic diseases” as well as exposure to malaria might make people in these countries more immune to the virus. “On Friday, researchers working in Uganda said they found COVID-19 patients with high rates of exposure to malaria were less likely to suffer severe disease or death than people with little history of the disease.”

Gee, why would that be? What about the pathophysiology of those diseases would make people immune to a virus? After all, we have been lectured by those so vociferously against hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin that there can’t possibly be cross-relation between the immune response to a parasitic infection and the response to a viral infection.

Could it possibly be the fact that those countries happen to constantly treat themselves with drugs like … the one that begins with the I and the one that begins with the H?

Since 1987, Merck has been funneling several hundred million doses of ivermectin per year through the Mectizan Donation Program, which includes all of the central African countries. How are the Mectizan countries doing?

Now, obviously, there are multiple factors involved in the success of these countries, likely including their lack of international travel. However, it is laughable for the media to entertain parasitic infections as a contributing factor without mentioning the two drugs being used to treat COVID that are commonly used in those countries to treat parasitic infections. What is also clear is that the vaccines simply play no role in determining the trajectory of this pandemic — at least not a positive one.

In another part of the world, there is also mounting evidence that ivermectin has helped accelerate a decline in cases. While the Far East has not incurred much death from the virus, those countries have been hit by the recent Delta wave since the summer. Japan was experiencing its sharpest peak of the pandemic, but appears to have enjoyed a steeper and quicker decline since August than any other Asian country.

While it’s hard to prove causation at this point, it’s also hard to overlook the fact that on Aug. 13, Dr. Haruo Ozaki, chairman of the Tokyo Metropolitan Medical Association, spoke favorably of the drug at a press conference.

“In Africa, if we compare countries distributing ivermectin once a year with countries which do not give ivermectin … I mean, they don’t give ivermectin to prevent COVID, but to prevent parasitic diseases … but anyway, if we look at COVID numbers in countries that give ivermectin, the number of cases is 134.4 per 100,000, and the number of deaths is 2.2 in 100,000.”

“Now, African countries which do not distribute ivermectin: 950.6 cases per 100,000 and 29.3 deaths per 100,000,” Ozaki added.

“I believe the difference is clear.”

A week later, Ozaki told the Yomiuri Shimbun, which is the largest circulating newspaper in the world, that he had recommended the use of the drug to the Japan Olympic Committee during the Olympics.

Ironically, Japan is the birthplace of ivermectin. In the 1970s, Dr. Satoshi Omura, a Japanese biochemist, discovered the bacteria specimen in the soil that led to the development of ivermectin, along with Dr. William Campbell, a Merck scientist. The two of them won the Nobel Prize for physiology in 2015 for this discovery.

Although ivermectin is not officially recommended by the Japanese government, it is one of the only countries where doctors and citizens have gotten a positive vibe from their government on its use.

Then, of course, there is Uttar Pradesh, the largest state in India, which has crushed its curve to the point that the virus is not just in low circulation, but essentially eradicated since June.

Typically, even when a COVID wave subsides, there is a persisting minimum baseline of cases and deaths, especially after 2-3 months. In Uttar Pradesh, on the other hand, the numbers are remarkable and have held up for a year. Obviously, a lot of the decline was likely due to built-up immunity, but it doesn’t account for the fact that the cases didn’t just decline to a low level, but essentially flatlined for months. Remember, this is an Indian state with a population of 240 million people. We are seeing similar trends in other Indian states that used ivermectin. The drug is so cheap and available in India that many Americans are buying ivermectin from Indian vendors oversees. (See Juan Chamie’s Substack for a compelling district-by-district analysis of Uttar Pradesh’s epidemiological curve.)

It is simply unheard of in any other country that experienced a large wave to then go for six straight months with essentially no cases. And again, when cases were eradicated, these Indian states had a very low vaccination rate. Almost nobody was vaccinated in the spring, and even at the end of October, just 15% were fully vaccinated in Uttar Pradesh. A similar trend has played out in Chiapas, Mexico.

No, none of this alone shows empirically that ivermectin itself is a magic pill, but what it does show is that if we are willing to pour billions of dollars and coercion into an ineffective and dangerous injection, why wouldn’t we spend a fraction of those funds researching cheap, safe repurposed drugs?

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