Opinion: Seniors Sick with COVID-19 Must be Treated early, not Left to Die

by Jean-Pierre Kiekens, independent analyst, former university lecturer, graduate from the universities of Brussels and Oxford

It was mainly the elderly who died from COVID-19 during the first wave of the epidemic. In Canada, some 81% of the 9,300 deaths occurred in nursing homes for the elderly. We now know that the risk of dying from COVID-19 increases exponentially with age (Spiegelhalter, 2020). Reducing COVID-19 mortality necessarily requires reducing mortality among seniors, whether they are at home or in residences.

Various measures have been taken in the provinces to prevent the new wave of infections from leading to the bloodshed that occurred this spring, with horrific situations in many elderly homes. However, it is also clear that with the resurgence of the pandemic and the new outbreaks in residences, the measures taken, which are all non-therapeutic in nature, show that they are already insufficient.

The major flaw in public health policies regarding COVID-19 in Canada, particularly with regard to the elderly, is to omit including therapeutic components, namely prophylaxis and early therapies. These latter therapies are administered at the very beginning of the disease, from the first symptoms, during the viral replication phase, precisely to stem this replication before the virus begins to wreak more havoc. It’s a bit like cancer therapy: we prefer to detect cancer early, to treat it early, to have a better chance of curing it.

In Australia, with the pandemic hitting the state of Victoria, the eminent Professor Thomas Borody, known worldwide for his scientific contributions to treat stomach ulcers and Crohn’s disease, has developed a tri – Ivermectin-based therapy, based on a number of clinical studies carried out on this molecule as of last April, in Florida and elsewhere. Professor Borody is very enthusiastic about this treatment for COVID-19. “We know it’s curable; it’s easier than treating the flu.” “It’s hard to believe how easy it is to cure the coronavirus.” 

Regarding the elderly, he says: “There is no age limit for treating. It works quite well in the elderly. Remember that older people also have aged immune systems. It therefore takes longer for the swabs to become negative. “

Today, in several retirement homes in Australia, as well as in several GP practices, Borody’s therapy is being administered. National media, including Sky News Australia, regularly report on the progress made with this therapeutic approach for COVID-19.

Of course, it is not only infected elderly people who should be treated. Providing early treatment for those who have tested positive and developed symptoms not only helps contain the progression of the infection, but it also significantly reduces the risk of hospitalization and severe forms of the disease.

An international study by Scholz et al. on the results of the triple therapy developed and administered by Dr. Zelenko in the state of New York showed an 84% reduction in the risk of hospitalization for patients who received his triple therapy, which lasts only 5 days and is based on low dose hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and zinc.

The triple therapies developed by Professor Borody and Dr Zelenko are not only safe but can also, from now on, be prescribed off-label, which is normal for therapies targeting a new disease such as COVID- 19. These therapies should be taken with medical supervision, and it is the responsibility of the attending physician to prescribe the most appropriate treatment protocol.

What proportion of seniors infected with COVID-19 and symptomatic can be saved by early therapeutic intervention? A study carried out in France by Dr Pirnay and his colleagues in a retirement home, using dual therapy, probably less efficient because it does not include zinc, shows that a reduction in mortality of the order of 50% of the mortality is achievable, this on seniors with an average age of 86 years.

Even better results can be expected with triple therapies and their administration very early, within a day or two of the first symptoms. This is very achievable, in particular in residences for the elderly with daily medical monitoring. Treating symptomatic seniors in Canada in this way could potentially save hundreds, if not thousands, of lives during this upsurge in the pandemic.

Prophylaxis can also save many lives in Canada. There are various non-drug prophylactic protocols, based on molecules such as zinc, quercetin, vitamin C and vitamin D, the latter often being deficient in the elderly. Scientific evidence is now mounting on the importance of prophylaxis in reducing mortality from COVID-19. A very recent study by Maghbooli et al shows a reduction of around 50% in the mortality of patients with COVID-19 who are not deficient in vitamin D.

In terms of therapeutic knowledge, things have changed a lot since the start of the pandemic. Both prophylaxis and early treatment are now known to offer tremendous opportunities to reduce mortality from COVID-19, especially among seniors, who are by far the most vulnerable.

The challenge today is to immediately put this therapeutic knowledge into practice, especially for the benefit of elderly people, to save many lives, rather than letting these people die without any treatment.


The author is an independent analyst, former university lecturer and graduate of the universities of Brussels and Oxford. Since March, he has written a number of articles on the pandemic, including a detailed analysis on how to reduce mortality in the elderly, which can be found at https://covexit.com/towards-another-bloodshed-in-canadas-elderly-homes/

REFERENCES

Maghbooli Z, Sahraian MA, Ebrahimi M, Pazoki M, Kafan S, Tabriz HM, et al. (2020)VitaminD sufficiency, a serum25-hydroxyvitaminD atleast 30 ng/mLreducedrisk for adverseclinicaloutcomesin patients with COVID-19infection.PLoSONE 15(9):e0239799. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0239799

Pirnay G, et al. Effet bénéfique de l’association hydroxychloroquine/azithromycine dans le traitement des patients âgés atteints de la COVID-19 : résultats d’une étude observationnelle. Le Pharmacien Hospitalier et Clinicien (2020), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phclin.2020.0

Scholz, M.; Derwand, R.; Zelenko, V. COVID-19 Outpatients – Early Risk-Stratified Treatment with Zinc Plus Low Dose Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin: A Retrospective Case Series Study. Preprints 2020, 2020070025 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202007.0025.v1).

Spiegelhalter David. Use of “normal” risk to improve understanding of dangers of covid-19 BMJ 2020; 370 :m3259