Everything covered (up)

"What happened during that hearing on COVID-19?"



Last week, before this paper went on its Lenten break, the House Committee on Health led by Quezon Rep. Angelita “Helen” Tan conducted a hearing on various issues concerning the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I’m not really sure for what reason as the only resolution I am aware of filed concerning COVID-19 that merits immediate attention was that of 1-Pacman Rep. Eric Pineda’s, which concerns the “wonder drug,” ivermectin. But maybe, Tan was just exercising her committee’s oversight function. Thus she had vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, contact tracing czar Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, Health Secretary Francisco Duque, and FDA Director General Eric Domingo, among others, report to her on the updates regarding their respective fields.

So, for four long agonizing hours, we were made to listen to the reports of Galvez, Magalong, Duque and Domingo on something we also get to hear every time President Rodrigo Duterte makes his late-night address.

As such, when it was time to discuss the issue of ivermectin, Tan appeared she was already in a hurry to wrap up the hearing, cutting short the presentations of Dr. Allan Landrito of the Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines, who’s responsible for compounding and dispensing the human-grade ivermectin used as prophylaxis and treatment for COVID-19 and Dr. Pierre Kory of the Front Liners COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, and the interpellations of Pineda and Reps. Mike Defensor, Bernadette Herrera and Rodante Marcoleta.

Tan was so much in a hurry that she missed several crucial points in the hearing including: DOH Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire’s denial even when she was under oath, that the DOH issued a warning against doctors who would prescribe ivermectin to their patients; the DOH and FDA allowing the very expensive remdesivir which the World Health Organization is critical of, as it has categorically stated there is no evidence the drug improves survival among Covid-19 patients, something it has not accorded the Ivermectin; Domingo’s incompetence in handling Landrito’s application; on the issue of why DOH and FDA are banning the use of Ivermectin when it is included in the Philippine National Formulary of Essential Medicine’s List; on why the DOH and the FDA only adopted the six unpublished adverse findings on ivermectin and ignored the more than 40 favorable reports on the drug, among many others. 

She could have warned them, especially Vergeire, if not cited them for contempt. Her biases clearly manifested in that particular hearing and you could just imagine the frustrations of those watching the live streaming by the emojis raining on the screen.

Tan even turned the hearing into an informal event, addressing Herrera as simply BH, calling Vergeire by her nickname Rosette, and addressing Domingo as DG.

And then, at the end of the hearing, Tan even had the gall and the temerity to declare they had everything covered. 

Maybe covered up would have been more appropriate.


This article, written by one Dr. Iggy Agbayani, was sent to me by a friend. While I want to reprint it in whole, I have to cut a few paragraphs as my space is limited.      

“Ivermectin: Uncovering Bias and Corruption in the World of Science and Medicine

“Are the combined experiences and studies of frontline doctors treating Covid-19 patients directly given its due importance? Are the powerful institutions of Health and Science insulated from corruption? 

“Recently we are seeing hundreds of conflicting news on Ivermectin in both mainstream and social media. We crave for order and a solution. There are those that claim that it only boils down to the lack of evidence. It has become a political debate now in the Philippine Congress because of the very palpable bias of scientific opinions and recommendations. 

“Some Philippine Medical societies with the FDA and DOH recently presented an unpublished meta-analysis based on six RCTs (Randomized controlled trials), the WHO based its own unpublished sixteen RCT's and both claim there is not enough evidence to make a recommendation. Dr Pierre Kory of the FLCCC Alliance based his team’s recommendation on twenty-four RCT’s and the esteemed and independent researcher, Dr. Tess Lawrie of the British Ivermectin Recommendation Development used twenty-one RCT's and another meta-analysis using twenty-one RCT's and some fifty or more observational controlled studies. 

“While the Philippine DOH and the WHO recommendations claim they cannot recommend its use due to lack of evidence, four pre-print meta-analysis and one more already accepted for publishing (Korey et al.) have recommended Ivermectin’s use both as prophylaxis and treatment for COVID-19.

“We at the Concerned Doctors and Citizens are calling out the bias of the non-recommending team of researchers of the WHO. We sincerely request answers to the following questions: 

“1) What is your basis or criteria for excluding more than eight randomized controlled trials? 2) Who are the authors of your team of independent researchers and can they present a full disclosure statement and claim to have no conflicts of interest? 3) Why is the WHO conveniently silent by not making any meta-analysis and recommendation on the prophylactic of Ivermectin versus COVID-19? 

“Ivermectin has a long and successful history of treating River blindness and Parasites even among animals. It is therefore my prayer for a near miraculous cure of blindness of the presented strong scientific evidence and that we be free from influential parasites that continue to suck the blood of credibility of the WHO.

“Why did WHO representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe also ignore mentioning the many other countries like Japan, India, Slovenia and many African and South American countries that already use Ivermectin versus COVID-19 when he stated at a Philippine Congress Hearing on COVID-19 that Ivermectin is not recognized internationally?

“If our FDA and DOH are very strict about recommendations and demand for clinical trials on Ivermectin, where then are the clinical trials on the safety and efficacy studies that force all Filipinos to use Face shields? In the same vein may we should ask why give special treatment to new vaccines that still have no long-term safety studies and only a single placebo randomized controlled trial per vaccine, something not given to the 24 RCT supported efficacy, very affordable and safe Ivermectin? 

“A recent social media post of self-announced expert on tropical medicine, Dr. Edsel Salvana stating Ivermectin can cause brain damage is worth noting. He shared a study that stated in its conclusion: ‘By comparison with the extensive post marketing experience with ivermectin in the successful treatment of parasitic infections, the total number of reported cases suggests that such events are likely rare.’

“In my opinion, this is an appalling and egregious attempt at smearing Ivermectin knowing that the large majority of readers will not read the cited study itself. 

“Merck Inc. a big pharmacology company also did not recommend ivermectin for COVID-19 and promoted such an announcement on mainstream and social media. This is a case of profit as it stands to lose millions of dollars from its upcoming new anti-Covid tablet (should Ivermectin prove to be a viable treatment). Ivermectin’s patent has expired since 1996 and can be sold as cheap as fifteen pesos a tablet, something Merck’s new product cannot match.”

Topics: Lenten break , Angelita “Helen” Tan , COVID-19 pandemic , Carlito Galvez
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