Diplomatic Notes

Treating COVID-19

We are going on six months into the first pandemic of consequence for most of the local population. I, for one, never paid much attention to the word pandemic until now, and I am sure, like others, I will never be able to forget it because of the life-altering dynamics of this insidious disease. Amidst the angst of the pandemic, the determination of what treatment works is as complicated as the disease itself. Most experts say there is no known cure and no standard treatment because the disease is new and there has not been a single drug or methodology that has been proven to work universally. Adding to the confusion is the interjection of politics into the treatment saga.

How do we treat this disease and what are effective treatment modalities? As of now, from my observations, the answer seems to be that we are not sure. There are some standard procedures being used but beyond that, nothing seems to be set in stone. For example, it seems like everyone infected should drink lots of fluids to stay hydrated, take vitamins and supplements to enhance the immune system, eat healthy foods and ingest oxygen if there is difficulty breathing. When cases become severe, ventilators are used, and it has been said that turning patients on their stomachs has brought relief to some.

Various drugs have been speculated to assist at different stages, but none have been given the nod as the go-to drug that will get the job done. Some show promise, according to who you talk to, and others are inconclusive. So, with no universally defined course of action, many practitioners are experimenting and learning as they go along. Getting back to the politics of COVID-19 treatment, it seems that a dividing line has emerged in light of statements or recommendations made by United States President Donald Trump. Trump famously recommended hydroxychloroquine as a potential “game changer” and it seems like politicians and doctors alike have sided for or against it, based upon political affiliation rather than proof.

I am not for or against any treatment based upon political affiliation, but in times like these, I am for whatever works. And it seems the people who know what works are the people treating the patients. Unfortunately, it is not clear, as there are conflicting assessments among doctors and scientists alike. Studies have been conducted and even the studies seem to be placed into a political box. On one hand, there are conspiracy theorists who have concluded that there is a nefarious plot to vaccinate the world for profit, and on the other hand, there is the notion that without a vaccination, we are left with a prolonged pandemic.

My interest is in finding out what actually works, and getting those treatments to the people who need it. I do not believe we should sanction unproven treatments – but if doctors and patients alike have testified of firsthand benefit from a treatment, that treatment should not be ignored or cast aside. At the very least, the patients and doctors who make the claim should be investigated, and if true, at least there should be acknowledgement that while not recommended specifically, these treatments should be explored further, in case there is something that current studies have missed. It is better to take a chance on something that seems to be curing, and let patients and doctors decide for themselves, than to prohibit something that has worked at least in some cases.

I have personally heard of multiple testimonies of various drugs that have helped people I know or am associated with through friends to overcome COVID. A doctor in Houston claimed that all of his patients got better through the use of an asthma medication. People I know have said they were assisted in recovery or cured using hydroxychloroquine, others through the use of a steroid and others through treatments from pharmaceutical companies. Some of the treatments have been dismissed, despite the fact that patients and doctors alike have agreed that it was either the primary or a secondary factor in their recovery. Unless it can be proven not to be true, how can such treatments be dismissed? If there is no known treatment, should not patients have the option to try something that has been recommended by other patients and doctors?

I believe that anything that has been proven to help, even if the proof is anecdotal, should be tried in the absence of an existing “silver bullet”. Why let people die without a fighting chance of their choice rather than the choice of “experts”? I remember when experts had told me that I would have to take certain medications indefinitely for high cholesterol and high uric acid and I was introduced to an alternative that essentially saved my life. The medical doctor said I would have to take statin drugs and instead, I was introduced to a natural treatment that lowered my cholesterol and uric acid in three weeks. I did the blood test before the three weeks and after and it confirmed that I did not need the conventional treatment recommended by my medical doctor. I have discovered that while medicine can be an essential life saver, standard medical treatments are not always the right method and the greatest healer is healthy food, exercise and water.

While I have no conclusive answer for the COVID-19 dilemma, I say let patients and their doctors decide rather than having scientists who are conducting experiments, politicians or pundits make the decisions. People’s lives are at stake and we should not obstruct their path to recovery and health, based upon what we determine to be right. Let them decide.

• Pastor Dave Burrows is senior pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries International. Feel free to email comments, whether you agree or disagree, to pastordaveburrows@hotmail.com. I appreciate your input and dialogue. We become better when we discuss, examine and exchange. 

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