McGill Academics are Wrong: Stricter Lockdowns are NOT the Solution

In Canada, provinces such as Québec, as well as many jurisdictions in other countries, are moving towards stricter lockdowns, and those are embraced by some academics. This article looks at the position of academics from McGill University in Montreal, QC, calling for stricter lockdowns, shows how flawed it is, and suggests there is a much better pathway to embrace than middle-age styled measures. This better pathway would reduce pressure on hospitals, reduce mortality, including among the most vulnerable in nursing homes, and progressively, and safely, allow for re-opening the economy and society.

We are now 10 months into the pandemic, 10 months during which considerable knowledge about COVID-19 has accumulated, including for its treatment and its prevention, and yet most governments are still largely focusing on ineffective, middle-age styled, lockdown strategies. 

See version in French.

Many academics are also embracing such middle-age styled strategies. Some even want more of them. This January 1st, in an opinion in the Montreal Gazette newspaper, two professors from McGill University called for even more stringent lockdown measures.

“We need a serious lockdown, not half measures” claim Marina Klein, MD, a professor of medicine and Catherine Hankins, MD, a professor of public and population health at the Montreal-based McGill University. 

The Québec prime minister, Mr François Legault, is told that he “must act decisively or risk squandering the sacrifices made to date,” write the two academics.

The present article is a response to Klein and Hankins, which will be submitted to the Montreal Gazette, but which will certainly not be published there, as there is unfortunately an “omertà” going on in the Canadian mainstream media, which only voice the official viewpoint and small variations around it.

In this response, I argue that Klein and Hankins – both doctors who probably never treated a C19 patient – just perpetuate a narrative according to which only lockdown measures can help fight the pandemic until, of course, the great saviour, vaccination, is widely administered and the (sheep?) herd is immunized.

Klein and Hankins’ recommendations are not new, are decisively common, but they are wrong. Why? Because they totally ignore the existence of prophylaxis and early protocols, for the treatment of C19 outside hospitals, at home and in nursing homes.

Prophylaxis and early treatment can indeed considerably reduce the danger posed by C19 and would most likely enable to permanently lift lockdown measures within one or two months, while they would at the same time considerably reduce the pressure on hospitals and substantially lower mortality, especially among the most vulnerable in nursing homes.

But Klein and Hankins totally ignore this, and categorically assert: “the only way to deal with this virus AND preserve the economy is to lock down early, lock down hard and stay locked down until community transmission is eliminated.” 

“The recipe has been written: close schools and all but essential workplaces, support those who are hit hard economically by these measures, limit travel, enforce quarantine of returning travellers and those found to have COVID-19, augment testing and tracing.”

“The Legault government must act decisively or risk squandering all the sacrifices made to date. Schools and businesses cannot be allowed to reopen Jan. 11. There can no longer be interactions outside household bubbles, even outdoors. They must make this hard and courageous decision and communicate it clearly to the population as soon as possible.”

The McGill academics present their recommendations as essential until vaccination of the population is widespread, as they would “buy precious time to ramp up vaccinations” which in turn “will bring an end to the pandemic sooner.” 

The logic seems impeccable, but it is fallacious and plain wrong and here is why.

Back in February and early March, there were no clear indications that C19 could be treated, including at home. But this changed pretty rapidly. Several early treatment protocols, developed by medical doctors all over the world, soon showed results. After all, it was not the first viral infection to be treated. 

Distinguished medical doctors such as Dr Zelenko, Professor Marik, Dr Fareed, Professor Borody and many others soon developed treatment protocols. But unlike most research, which focused on hospitalized patients, suffering from already acute forms of the disease, these doctors developed protocols that would center on the early viral phase of the disease, which is now known to be the easiest to treat. In addition, prevention protocols were also developed.

Today, it is clearly demonstrated by several studies that early outpatient treatment is very effective. A study by Roland et al. of the therapeutic results achieved by Dr Zev Zelenko in New York, with a tri therapy comprising Zn, HCQ and AZI, showed an 84% reduction in the need for hospitalization and a similar reduction in mortality. Another study, about the outpatient treatment protocol administered by Dr Brian Procter in Texas, shows a 88% reduction in the risk of hospitalization and a 61% reduction in death risk.

All these doctors agree: the disease must treated early, at first symptoms. It is then much less dangerous and only requires hospitalization in very special circumstances, for example for the very old or the immunocompromised. 

But in Canada and other jurisdictions, it’s precisely during this therapeutic window, that lasts just a few days, that people sick with C19 are requested to isolate home, without any treatment. This core flaw in the public response to C19 has caused, and continues to cause, numerous and avoidable deaths.

Regarding prophylaxis, it is now known how not to catch the disease in the first place, and this does not even require a vaccine, as it can be achieved with weekly, or bi-weekly doses of an innocuous drug.

The most stunning results were achieved by Professor Hector Carvallo and his team, with a study encompassing 1195 health care workers in Argentina. Among those, 788 received a prophylactic treatment, and none of those contracted C19. In the control group, on the other hand, 58% of health care workers, protected by PPE only, contracted C19.

You read it well: 0% got infected in the prophylaxis group, while one would have anticipated over 50% to be infected with personal protection equipment only.

With prophylaxis and early treatment being denied by the authorities and the complicit medical and pharmacy boards, the disease is not stopped early, through home treatment. When it progresses towards an acute form, hospitalization is needed, while it usually could have been prevented. Hospitalization is actually denied to most nursing home patients, which are left to die from C19, untreated, in sometimes horrific conditions.

We are brought to believe that we the people, through our lack of compliance with the public health recommendations, are responsible for the hospitals and especially the ICUs to be overcrowded with C19 cases. In reality, it’s the absence of outpatient early treatment, forced by the authorities, that is mostly to blame. With early outpatient treatment, there would be five times less, or even fewer, C19 cases in hospitals and in ICUs.

The existence of effective prophylaxis and early treatment protocols is simply ignored by Klein and Hankins, who falsely present vaccination as the only pathway out of this pandemic. 

In Canada, during the first wave of the pandemic, there was a huge blood shed in nursing homes, where some 81% of the deaths occurred. Provinces, including Québec and Ontario, have taken draconian measures to reduce new infections in nursing homes, making the lives of residents miserable, yet there are outbreaks all over the place. 

As Dr Robin Armstrong, who successfully treated nursing home residents with C19, stressed during our webinar with him and Dr George Fareed, about how to prevent and treat C19 in nursing homes, no amount of restrictive, non therapeutic measures can stop the spread of an airborne virus in a particularly conducive environment such as a nursing home.

On the other hand, with prophylaxis and early therapeutic measures, it is feasible to dramatically curb C19 infections and outbreaks in nursing homes. It’s not done by the authorities and medical professionals, but it’s totally feasible, and could be implemented right away. That would take care of four fifths of the problem.

As for the remaining fifth, i.e. the people who are at high risk of dying from C19, it’s also very feasible to provide them almost immediately the required protection, with prophylaxis and early treatment.

Regarding prophylaxis, all people at very high risk should be put on prophylaxis immediately. This includes old people at home, health care workers, bus drivers, taxi drivers, airline cabin personnel and possibly even school teachers.

Implementing early treatment requires a radical change in the way the health authorities deal with C19. Instead of telling people with the disease to stay home as long as possible, without any treatment, and seek hospital care only as a last instance, they should be told to seek immediate medical help. 

To be most effective, outpatient treatment must be given, within days of the first symptoms. Proper monitoring and possible adjustments in the treatment protocol, including sometimes the provision of oxygen at home, is also required, until they have fully recovered.

Knowledge about both the diagnosis and early treatment regimens is now very well developed, thanks to the experience of doctors who have successfully treated very long series of patients. This means that general practitioners can be trained very rapidly to deliver high quality outpatient care for C19.

To be noted is that treatment for C19 must start rapidly and usually even before the result of the testing, which is known significantly unreliable because of many false positives and negatives, is obtained. With prophylaxis and early treatment, the very usefulness of widespread PCR testing can actually be called into question, but this is not the topic of the present article.

Most people in society are not at risk of developing a severe form of C19, which is known to overly affect people who are very old and/or with risk factors such as obesity and diabetes. Fortunately, protocols for risk stratification already exist and can readily be implemented.

With prophylaxis and early treatment at home, and a focus on those people who are at high risk of developing an acute form of the disease, especially in nursing homes, it’s possible to dramatically reduce the risk associated with C19, the risk of hospitalization and mortality.

This can be implemented immediately. The drugs needed for this approach are generic, extremely cheap to produce, and their production, if necessary, could be ramped up in Canada very quickly.

There are thousands of medical doctors who are readily available and who can provide the required prophylactic and early outpatient care, both with consultations in person and with telemedicine.

Of course, there are vaccines, but it will take time for those to be widely administered, and questions remain about their long term effectiveness and safety. It’s also unreasonable to administer them to segments of the population who are at extremely low risk of developing an acute form of C19, such as children and young adults, or people who already have had the disease and have developed immunity.

Klein and Hankins mention Australia as an example in fighting the pandemic. Australia is an island, that has been so far little affected by C19, except for the State of Victoria. Their lockdown policies, aimed at zero new contaminations, are devastating.

One of the most distinguished medical doctors in the world, Professor Thomas Borody, is based in Sydney and is among those pleading for the early treatment of the disease. He has actually developed an early therapy for C19, which is now progressively prescribed off label, in Australia and elsewhere. In India, the therapy sells for less than US$ 2!

It’s actually way too late for Canada to follow the approach of Australia or New Zealand, as C19 is much more prevalent in Canada and the country is also much more interconnected, especially with the US. 

Actually, in the US, everything points at C19 to become endemic. This is also what is progressively occurring in Canada, and this is something that needs to be dealt with. 

Dealing with C19 as an endemic disease may not be that hard to do, as long as those who are at high risk from the disease are protected with early treatment, prophylaxis and yes, vaccination as long as it is safe and effective.

Klein and Hankins are totally wrong in their analysis as to how to deal with the pandemic in Canada. Yet they have an excuse: so are most decision makers and medical professionals in the country. 

Very few have made the effort of keeping an open mind, of being curious, of looking at what other countries are doing, of seeking the best available information. In short, very few have made the effort of looking for real solutions. 

Those who made the effort of seeking real solutions, on the other hand, all agree: prevention and early treatment of C19 are crucially important. They constitute the missing pillar in our fight against C19.

While the virus is spreading and becoming endemic, C19 may not be that dangerous in fact, IF, and only IF, prevention and early outpatient treatment are immediately being offered to the population.

For that, there needs to be of course, a complete and immediate policy change, something the authorities will most likely be incapable of doing, if the past is an indicator of the future.

Today, much more dangerous than C19 are the ill-conceived responses by the authorities to the pandemic, including their middle-age styled lockdowns.