By Marvin Ross
An individual I look after who has Alzheimer’s and is in a dementia care home called because he can no longer tolerate the Covid-19 restrictions. He has been locked in since the beginning and can no longer go for his daily walks (with his Personal Support Worker) to various coffee shops in the area. The arguments he used were quite similar to the arguments used by the anti-lock down people in the US. They were:
- there is no pandemic
- people die all the time so what’s the big deal
- who are the public health officials and medical officers of health to tell me what I can and can’t do
- my freedom is curtailed and it is my business
He can be excused because he has dementia which trumps (no pun intended) his doctoral degree and his knowledge of science and medicine. But how can we account for those views in people who do not have dementia? The answer, I think, is our anti-science views that are not restricted to just the groups mentioned in the title and the conspiracy theories they breed. For example, someone in Quebec is torching cell towers because they believe that 5G technology is spreading the virus. The towers do not have 5G technology.
A doctor in France, for some reason, decided to do a small study of a malaria treatment drug called Hydroxychloroquine to see if it might help with Covid-19. Why, no one seems to know since the drug is used to prevent malaria and to help with the symptoms of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. The study has few people in it and is badly designed but he claims some efficacy. Trump latched on to it, Huffington Post suggested, when he was influenced by a “philosopher who tweets anti-semitism, two bitcoin bros and right wing media” Suddenly, numerous universities around the world decide to conduct full scale clinical trials. Right now, there are 199 trials of this drug listed with the clinical trials registry.
The rationale for conducting a clinical trial is that there is a viable hypothesis to suggest the drug might be efficacious. I do not think there is one in this case so why are we wasting our resources?. The clinical trial process is lengthy and takes years to complete before a drug is finally approved. The steps are laid out in this article from the American Council on Science and Health .
Remdesivir, an anti-viral agent, may show some promise but the one study found no reduction in mortality from its use and a reduction of time to cure reduced by about 4 days from 15 days. Production is being ramped up despite a marginally positive result in one small trial. The American Council suggested that the one study with results is no cause for celebration.
As for vaccines, the fastest a vaccine has ever been developed is 5 years and yet there is tremendous hype for a vaccine with one small trial involving only 8 patients. The stock market response to this one very small trial added $29 billion to the value of Moderna stock.
“Several vaccine experts asked by STAT concluded that, based on the information made available by the Cambridge, Mass.-based company, there’s really no way to know how impressive —or not — the vaccine may be.”
There were 45 subjects in this trial but the company only released data on 8. What were the results for the other 37 subjects? No one knows and that is just one problem with the data.
The anti-science attitude is not new nor is it confined to certain segments of society like the uneducated. This attitude is surprising given that the last 50 or so years has seen incredible scientific advances that have enhanced our lives and allowed us to live longer than before. The anti-vax movement is as unscientific and stupid as can be and is not confined to those with little education. The same goes for the anti-psychiatry group as I have been writing for a number of years.
Just recently, a long list of supposedly respected people and disability groups wrote an open letter to the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in the US because they showed a documentary on serious mental illness called Bedlam done by a psychiatrist. Unfortunately, I did not see the film because my local PBS station across Lake Ontario in Buffalo, New York did not show it. The letter demands that PBS give them airtime and criticized what they think are the fallacies in the film.
Unfortunately, those who oppose modern psychiatry and the treatment of serious mental illnesses are either ignorant or unaware of the advances in the neurosciences and in the treatment of these illnesses. Their letter decries the lack of discussion of such treatments as Open Dialogue from Finland, the Hearing Voices movement and Sorteria. As I wrote a few years ago, Open Dialogue has yet to be proven to be efficacious. My blogging partner, Dr Dawson covered this in this blog. Hearing Voices was discounted by me in the Huffington Post and by Dr Dawson in this blog as well. Sorteria, a drug free program founded years ago and abandoned years ago is getting a bit of a resurgence in a drug free treatment program in Norway.
Properly applied pharmaceutical therapy for serious illness saves lives. To ignore this is folly.
Given the extent that scientific advances since the mid 1950s have enhanced lives, it is surprising that anti-scientific views attract so many people.