Need or Greed

6 days ago, (or thereabouts) the FDA  has issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) fact sheet to permit the emergency use of  hydroxychloroquine sulfate to treat COVID patients because clinical trials were not available and participation was not feasible.  [Editor Note:  Added “fact sheet” – see link.]

3 days later, the FDA is cautioning against the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID patients because of a risk of heart rhythm problems.

How do they say they know about the risk of heart rhythm problems?  Because they monitor the safety of products after they are approved.  There are issues with this explanation, however:

(1) The FDA never formally approved the use of  hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID patients so why would they be reviewing their monitoring sources,  i.e. the Adverse Event Reporting System database, published medical literature, and the American Association of Poison Control Centers National Poison Data System?

(2)  FDA Emergency use was only granted 3 days before so how much information could the FDA have possibly gleaned from their their “most excellent” sources, as Ted & Bill would say, to justify their complete 180? [Editor Note:  This should say 30, not 3.  I now understand some of the confusion with the dates.  My apologies.  I am not going to use George as my editor anymore because he doesn’t check everything I write.  In his defense, he thinks I’m perfect so I can live with his limitation in the editing department.  –  Emergency Use Authorization pertaining to COVID-19 was granted on March 28, 2020.  My point was over a 30 day period you would not have much data. ]  

(3) This drug has been successfully used for decades to mitigate overactive (and over reactive) immune system responses so how could this heart thing suddenly come up within days of emergency approval if they weren’t looking for something; anything that would justify a change in their position.

That the case fatality rate of COVID is higher for patients with cardiovascular disease is kind of a no-brainer.  With each comorbidity, you’re going to be at greater risk.  But the estimated 10.5% risk this particular condition may impose seems infinitely better than dying from COVID when you realize you may be sliding down the wrong side of the survival slope.  I can just hear someone on Mount Everest yelling down to the guy below him: “Sorry you lost your footing, mate.  I see you lost your ice ax.  I have one that is 60 centimeters that I could throw down to you, but you look like you’re over 5 feet 7 inches so you’d probably need a 65.  I really did enjoy meeting you, though.  I’ll give my best to your wife and kids.”  My point:  You work with what you have and you can’t be stupid about it.  

So getting back to what happened that made the FDA change its mind within the span of days?  

Gilead happened.  If the name Gilead sounds familiar, it should.  It’s the pharmaceutical that nearly put payers out of business when they obtained FDA approval for the Hep C cure at $1000 a pop: one pill, every day, 12 weeks = $84,000 per patient. Remember that?  It was a game changer in healthcare.

Gilead has initiated two Phase 3 clinical studies to evaluate the safety and efficacy of remdesivirRemdesivir is a broad-spectrum antiviral medication which can be used for COVID-19 and the rest of the coronaviruses, e.g. SARs MERs, etc.  Not surprisingly, the FDA’s position is that it is “reasonable to believe that known and potential benefits of remdesivir outweigh its known and potential risks.”  This is another way of saying, “Go for it, boys.”  

Of course there’s more to the story.  There is ALWAYS more to the story.

It has been reported that China holds the patent on the drug through an agreement with Gilead’s drug patent sharing subsidiary branch called UNITAID who, according to the New York Times, donates a substantial amount to the Clinton Foundation (more than 25,000,000), as do Bill and Melinda Gates (somewhere between $10,000,001 to $25,000,000) and the Soros Foundation ($500,001 to $1,000,000).   Gilead and UNITAID were financial supporters of Hillary Clinton and Fauci’s NIAID funded the Wuhan Institute of Virology specifically for the “study” of Coronaviruses.  Here’s a happy picture of some folks you recognize:

* * *
It’s a good thing the FDA has lost so much credibility over the years.  The “good guys,” our physicians, are ignoring them when it makes sense and doing what they do best: practicing medicine to save their patients.

Take Dr. Robin Armstrong in Texas City, TX, for example.  In a local nursing home under his care, he had 56 residents and 33 staff members who were COVID positive.  He knew the residents who ended up in the hospital had a higher mortality rate so he did the only thing he knew worked:  He began administering Hydroxychloroquine a Z-Pak, and Zinc as soon as a resident first started showing symptoms.  He wasn’t reckless, of course.  Physicians rarely are.  He knew the link to heart rhythm problems so he did EKGs on each of his patients, daily, to ensure there were no cardiac side effects.  There weren’t.   The end result?  Only one of the residents died and of the 99% of the staff that stayed, 98% are back at work.  These are the kind of results we like to see.

This is why we need doctors practicing medicine and not the FDA or the CDC.   We need clinicians, with their boots on the ground, who are trained to make life and death decisions quickly.  The FDA and CDC were never intended to be the decision makers.  They were intended to be tools of the decision makers, but not the tools of the Gates, the Clintons, or Big Pharma.  If people are intuitively backing away from their recommendations, is it any wonder why?

Oh, there is going to be a “new normal.”  I agree with you on that.  Our “new normal,” however, isn’t going to be anything Soros could imagine.  Our “new normal” is going to be “old school”.  We’re going to go back to practicing what we know, not what we hear and I say Amen to that.

Mrs. Yours Truly


  1. ROU Killing Time says

    It is not correct to say that hydroxychloroquine sulfate received an EUA six days ago (April 27). That is merely the date of the version of the EUA that you link.

    The EUA was originally released on March 28, more than a month ago:

    It was the subject of public controversy at the time!

    • Gail Sheppard says

      So you’re beef is about the date on the EUA?You have a letter of intent in March and I have the more formalize version of the letter with a 4/27 date.  The point is not the date. The point is, days after formalizing the letter, the FDA is cautioning against the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID patients because of a risk of heart rhythm problems!  Doesn’t that strike you as odd?  Why would they do that? 

      • ROU Killing Time says

        You are not describing the process or situation accurately. What I linked is not a “letter of intent”, it is the EUA for chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate. It is not a draft. And it is dated March 28.

        Now I did err in referring to what you linked as the EUA. What you linked is not the EUA and I should have looked at it more closely. It is just a “fact sheet”, which has had several revisions. The Internet Archive has the first version of the fact sheet as dating to April 9:

        So, again, your framing of the FDA having only done emergency approval for less than a week before putting out cautionary guidance is entirely incorrect. The cautionary guidance came out more than a month after the emergency approval, which is not the least bit odd since there would have been data collected that drove the cautionary guidance! The EUA explicitly spells out the authorization condition of adverse event reporting and monitoring through existing FDA process.

        This, frankly, pretty much torpedos your essay. This can be thought of as a consequence of not paying attention to the news, not reviewing your source documentation carefully enough, and not doing your own due diligence checks.

        Additionally, it does not seem as if you investigated the details of your non-clinical-study “success” story. Administering to 30 symptomatic senior care residents and having 1 of them die is kind of in conflict with a proposition of ‘miracle cure that wards off a virus that is only as lethal as the flu without it’. Also those patients started their treatment on April 5, which makes sense given that the EUA was granted on March 28.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          So, if I insert “fact sheet” you’re good?

          So what do you think of the point, i.e. the FDA did an about face within days of issuing a directive on the emergency use of hydroxychloroquine sulfate?

          * * *
          6 days ago, (or thereabouts) the FDA  has issued a Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) FACT SHEET to permit the emergency use of  hydroxychloroquine sulfate to treat COVID patients because clinical trials were not available and participation was not feasible.

          3 days later, the FDA is cautioning against the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID patients because of a risk of heart rhythm problems.

          • ROU Killing Time says

            I think we need to review the timeline of all the linked documents and stories:
            March 28: The FDA releases a Emergency Use Authorization for chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate in treatment of COVID-19
            April 3: The FDA releases a fact sheet for health care providers providing guidance in regards to the EUA of hydroxychloroquine sulfate (the Internet Archive snapshot was from the 9th but the document is dated the 3rd).
            April 5: Residents at the Texas City nursing home are administered hydroxychloroquine
            April 24: The FDA releases a drug safety communication cautioning against of the use of or chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate outside a hospital setting or clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems (this was released on the 24th, not the 30th)
            April 27: The FDA revises the fact sheet published on 4/3. The primary change appears to correct two instances where the fact sheet referred to chloroquine phosphate instead of hydroxychloroquine sulfate
            You have your timespans incorrect and indeed the actual order of events events incorrect. The safety warning you thought was on April 30th was on April 24th. The fact sheet you thought was from the April 27th is from April 3rd. And the actual EUA is from March 28th.
            The QT issues with Hydroxychloroquine are not newly discovered issues this is an article from March 24:

            • Gail Sheppard says

              So, it’s not that my description does not include “fact sheet” that bothers you; it’s the date on the document I used?

              I selected that particular document BECAUSE it was the most recent document demonstrating the FDA had approved emergency use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID and 3 days later they suddenly changed their position. The question is why? What changed in 3 days?

              Previous documents, the date order of documents, errors, terminology. . . none of this has to do with anything I was saying.

              The FDA changed their minds within a period of 3 days. Why? Well, that’s the question, isn’t it? It has nothing to do with them finding out about heart rhythm risks, as they claim, within a few days of being just fine with its use, as they indicate in the fact sheet.

              As a matter of fact, heart rhythm issues was a KNOWN risk long before COVID. Look at the date on this study to investigate the propensity of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to cause bradycardia. I’ll save you the trouble. It’s October 12, 2015 and this is what they found:

              We have shown that HCQ acts as a bradycardic agent in SAN cells, in atrial preparations, and in vivo. HCQ slows the rate of spontaneous action potential firing in the SAN through multichannel inhibition, including that of If.


              The FDA’s about-face has nothing to do with learning about heart rhythm problems. So if it wasn’t this, what was it? What happened in those 3 days that would explain it? Gilead

              • Gail Sheppard: “The FDA changed their minds within a period of 3 days. Why? Well, that’s the question, isn’t it? It has nothing to do with them finding out about heart rhythm risks, as they claim, within a few days of being just fine”
                I see nothing strange in those changes. New information is coming, the drug could not be extensively tested and FDA is learning.
                It would be scary if FDA were rigid in such extraordinary and fluid situation. Even the most competent specialists are not superhuman.

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  If that’s what happened, I would agree. But this was not “new information.”

                  • I am sure they get daily updates, new information and new ideas. As it should be.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      I’m sure they get daily updates, but again this wasn’t new information. If if this was new, they would have have come out with a “Risks Versus Benefits” statement, as there are potential sides effects with every drug. This particular one has been around a very long time. To do an about-face based on something that isn’t new is not typical of the FDA. They normally move as fast as molasses.

              • Gail Sheppard says


                So, I went back to see how I could have possibly confused you. In rereading the piece, I think it was my reference to “3 days” at the top and “3 days” in paragraph #2, making it appear as if I was talking about the same thing.

                Paragraph #2 should have said 30 days before. It wasn’t a reference to a document with a given date. It was a reference to the date they issued the emergency authorization. – I apologize if I confused you. I added the following editor note:

                (2)  FDA Emergency use was only granted 3 days before so how much information could the FDA have possibly gleaned from their their “most excellent” sources, as Ted & Bill would say, to justify their complete 180? [Editor Note:  This should say 30, not 3.  I now understand some of the confusion with the dates.  My apologies.  I am not going to use George as my editor anymore because he doesn’t check everything I write.  In his defense, he thinks I’m perfect so I can live with his limitations in the editing department.  –  Emergency Use Authorization pertaining to COVID-19 was granted on March 28, 2020.  My point was over a 30 day period you would not have much data. ]  

                • ROU Killing Time says

                  Your assertion that the “FDA changed its mind” is as incorrect as your original chronology. Your assertion that “the FDA is cautioning against the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID patients because of a risk of heart rhythm problems.” is also incorrect and not supported by the actual contents of the safety communication.
                  The EUA was not rescinded. The safety communication was not a cancellation or even a change to the criteria for usage under the EUA. The EUA allowed for usage outside of clinical trials only for certain hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
                  The original fact sheet contraindicated usage for patients with heart conditions, quoting from the April 3rd fact sheet: “Hydroxychloroquine sulfate should not be used in patients with a prolonged QT interval at baseline or at increased risk for arrythmia”
                  The original fact sheet explicitly recommended cardiac monitoring, again, quoting from the April 3rd fact sheet:”Recommended Laboratory and Monitoring ProceduresA baseline electrocardiogram should be obtained to assess for QT interval prolongation and other abnormalities. Baseline evaluation of renal and hepatic function is recommended.WarningsCardiac Effects: QT interval prolongation. Use with caution in patients with cardiac disease, QT prolongation, a history of ventricular arrhythmias, bradycardia, uncorrected potassium or magnesium imbalance, and during concomitant administration with QT interval prolonging drugs such as azithromycin and some other antibacterial drugs.Monitor the electrocardiogram during treatment.
                  So the safety communication was not a change, or added anything new, but was essentially a response driven by the mandated adverse reporting process that was part of the EUA, quoting from the safety communication:”What did FDA find?We have reviewed case reports in the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System database, the published medicalliterature, and the American Association of Poison Control Centers National Poison Data System concerning seriousheart-related adverse events and death in patients with COVID-19 receiving hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine,either alone or combined with azithromycin or other QT prolonging medicines. These adverse events werereported from the hospital and outpatient settings for treating or preventing COVID-19, and included QT intervalprolongation, ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation, and in some cases death. We are continuing toinvestigate these safety risks in patients with COVID-19 and will communicate publicly when more information isavailable.
                  So, no, it is not terribly suspicious that over the timespan of several weeks, the FDA had gotten enough incident reporting through the relevant adverse event reporting channels that they put out a safety communication that reiterated existing restrictions, guidelines and warnings. Especially if people weren’t following the EUA and proscribing outpatient or in unauthorized combinations.
                  All of these things are readily apparent when one actually reads the assorted documents in question.
                  To try to analogize, it is kind of like you had constructed a theory of how a preferred suspect committed a murder, believing they had no alibi. Except, you had the date of the murder wrong and on the actual date the suspect was on another continent. And something you thought was motive, a communication suggesting an illicit affair, was actually just somebody telling their mother they loved her. At some point you have to stop digging.

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    There are a couple of things wrong with what you said, like the fact sheet said the drug was contraindicated usage for patients with heart conditions. It did not say patients with “heart conditions”. It said it should not be used in patients with a prolonged QT interval at baseline or at increased risk for arrythmia. The term “heart condition” encompass many other things.

                    You also talk about a safety communication that reiterates existing restrictions, guidelines and warnings. – A “safety communication” begins with “FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA cautions about using . . .” The newest message is the “FDA cautions against use of. . .” These are two different messages.

                    You quoted a long statement that ended with “. . . We are continuing to investigate these safety risks in patients with COVID-19 and will communicate publicly when more information is available.” That statement was made the end of April. You then go on to say that it is not terribly suspicious that over the timespan of several weeks . . . ” This is May 6. It has not been several weeks.

                    Finally, I apologized for a typo! That’s hardly the same as “constructing a theory of how a preferred suspect committed a murder, believing they had no alibi. . .” Nor was this a particularly gracious way to accept an apology.

                    In my opinion, the FDA took an unusual step, making it harder for physicians to prescribe this drug off-label for patients outside a hospital setting. This makes it more difficult for a physician to prescribe it before the patient is sick enough to require hospitalization. If something goes wrong, they can be sued for doing something the FDA has cautioned against. Before, the FDA didn’t caution against anything. They merely granted emergency authorization for use in a hospital.

                    The FDA does not want people to use an inexpensive drug to treat COVID because 45 percent, or $2.6 billion, of their revenue comes from industry user fees; 33% of which is for human drugs. They would much rather get the money Gilead would have to pay for studies for a new drug and they were counting on the fact that the older manufacturers of hydroxychloroquine wouldn’t be able to afford to do the testing to demonstrate its efficacy in treating COVID before the patient needs some kind of breathing assistance and winds up in the hospital. They were wrong. (See Below)

                    * * *

                    “Most drug studies are conducted by pharmaceutical companies to increase the use of new medicines that are still protected by patents, which give them a monopoly on the drug’s sales. For older, generic drugs like hydroxychloroquine, there are many manufacturers, none of whom are likely to make enough revenue to foot the bill.

                    But Tsai said that Novartis, which makes a generic version of hydroxychloroquine through its generic division, Sandoz, felt a responsibility to conduct the clinical trial.

                    “We felt like it was our obligation to embark on a study to understand the scientific question,” Tsai said. “So that’s why we pursued this study. There is not a financial incentive for us per se.”


                    • Étienne Preobrazhensky says

                      Last week, the New England Journal of Medicine, the tone of the issue was set by the Editorial Board: “The Urgency of Care during the Covid-19 Pandemic — Learning as We Go.” [] This “urgency,” obviously felt by clinical practitioners who have very little actual objective data by which to guide treatment, is perhaps for the first time ever being directly influenced by “consumers” relying on internet search engines. And, of course, the president of your country. The editorial begins by noting,

                      Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, alone or in combination with azithromycin, have been highly touted as potential therapies for Covid-19. The claims of efficacy are based largely on anecdotes and case series that have been described as being so persuasive that it would be unethical to perform studies with placebo controls. On the basis of this “evidence,” these therapies have been recommended in many guidelines, including some national policies, and have been widely implemented. But is the evidence really that strong?

                      The editorial notes that, “Physicians caring for patients with Covid-19 are faced with important therapeutic choices. Should they use widely available agents such as hydroxychloroquine or azithromycin? The choice to use these drugs has already been made, probably in hundreds of thousands of patients, but with scant evidence about the risks and benefits,” yet expresses its deep “disappointment” that, already months into the pandemic, there is little by way of validated research to guide medical practice.
                      The Journal then goes on to offer an original research study, “Observational Study of Hydroxychloroquine in Hospitalized Patients with Covid-19,” that describes an examination of the “association between hydroxychloroquine use and intubation or death at a large medical center in New York City” [New York–Presbyterian Hospital (NYP)–Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC)]”:

                      Data were obtained regarding consecutive patients hospitalized with Covid-19, excluding those who were intubated, died, or discharged within 24 hours after presentation to the emergency department (study baseline). The primary end point was a composite of intubation or death in a time-to-event analysis. We compared outcomes in patients who received hydroxychloroquine with those in patients who did not, using a multivariable Cox model with inverse probability weighting according to the propensity score.

                      Unlike the French studies (I am embarrassed to say) with a cohort of 25-30 patients and “open-label” administration, rendering them no better than anecdote, this study enlisted 1376 consecutive COVID-19 patients, of which 811 (58.9%),

                      received hydroxychloroquine (600 mg twice on day 1, then 400 mg daily for a median of 5 days); 45.8% of the patients were treated within 24 hours after presentation to the emergency department, and 85.9% within 48 hours. Hydroxychloroquine-treated patients were more severely ill at baseline than those who did not receive hydroxychloroquine (median ratio of partial pressure of arterial oxygen to the fraction of inspired oxygen, 223 vs. 360). Overall, 346 patients (25.1%) had a primary end-point event (180 patients were intubated, of whom 66 subsequently died, and 166 died without intubation). In the main analysis, there was no significant association between hydroxychloroquine use and intubation or death (hazard ratio, 1.04, 95% confidence interval, 0.82 to 1.32). Results were similar in multiple sensitivity analyses.”

                      The authors noted: “We hypothesized that hydroxychloroquine use would be associated with a lower risk of a composite end point of intubation or death in analyses that were adjusted for major predictors of respiratory failure and weighted according to propensity scores assessing the probability of hydroxychloroquine use,” and that

                      [patients] who presented with moderate-to-severe respiratory illness, which was defined as a resting oxygen saturation of less than 94% while they were breathing ambient air. The suggested hydroxychloroquine regimen was a loading dose of 600 mg twice on day 1, followed by 400 mg daily for 4 additional days. Azithromycin at a dose of 500 mg on day 1 and then 250 mg daily for 4 more days in combination with hydroxychloroquine was an additional suggested therapeutic option.

                      The authors noted that, based on observable results (or better, a lack thereof), “The azithromycin suggestion was removed on April 12, 2020, and the hydroxychloroquine suggestion was removed on April 29, 2020. The decision to prescribe either or both medications was left to the discretion of the treating team for each individual patient.”
                      The study showed that,

                      Among the 1376 patients included in the analysis, the primary end point of respiratory failure developed in 346 patients (25.1%); a total of 180 patients were intubated, and 166 died without intubation. In the crude, unadjusted analysis, patients who had received hydroxychloroquine were more likely to have had a primary end-point event than were patients who did not (hazard ratio, 2.37; 95% CI, 1.84 to 3.02). There was also no significant association between treatment with azithromycin and the composite end point (hazard ratio, 1.03; 95% CI, 0.81 to 1.31).

                      Practically speaking,

                      Clinical guidance at our medical center has been updated to remove the suggestion that patients with Covid-19 be treated with hydroxychloroquine. In our analysis involving a large sample of consecutive patients who had been hospitalized with Covid-19, hydroxychloroquine use was not associated with a significantly higher or lower risk of intubation or death (hazard ratio, 1.04; 95% CI, 0.82 to 1.32). The study results should not be taken to rule out either benefit or harm of hydroxychloroquine treatment, given the observational design and the 95% confidence interval, but the results do not support the use of hydroxychloroquine at present, outside randomized clinical trials testing its efficacy.

                      Several quick addenda: this week’s edition of the New England Journal of Medicine offers an original study regarding the administration of the combination antiretroviral of lopinavir–ritonavir (LPV/r): “This randomized trial found that lopinavir–ritonavir treatment added to standard supportive care was not associated with clinical improvement or mortality in seriously ill patients with Covid-19 different from that associated with standard care alone.” Secondly, in that SARS-CoV-2 is an RNA virus, one would tend to judge the efficacy of an antiretroviral by its ability to reduce the RNA viral load (think of HIV and the ability of these medications to reduce the viral load so as to be non-detectable):

                      We did not find that adding lopinavir–ritonavir treatment reduced viral RNA loads or duration of viral RNA detectability as compared with standard supportive care alone. SARS-CoV-2 RNA was still detected in 40.7% of the patients in the lopinavir–ritonavir group at end of the trial (day 28). A recent report showed that the median duration of viral shedding in Covid-19 was 20 days in patients with severe illness and could be as long as 37 days. Neither that study nor the current one found evidence that lopinavir–ritonavir exerted a significant antiviral effect.

                      Likewise, there are a significant number of Correspondence from world epidemiologists regarding a faulty calculation in regard to a published study of Remdesivir (the Chinese-developed antiviral) that, by removing “death” as a “treatment failure.” it skews the data – by nearly 30% -making it appear more helpful than it is in reality. It seems to me this should allay concerns that there are attempts to manipulate favor an “expensive” medication. Gilead? Actually, as you have seen, neither hydroxychloroquine/zithromycin, LPV/r, or Remdesivir equally show significant promise.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      I don’t agree that consumers who rely on internet search engines are driving anything with respect to chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. CMS guidelines drive the healthcare system in this country. They determine who gets what and when. If a physician who accepts federal money (most all do, as 98% of them accept Medicare) were to knowingly ignore these rules, he’d be in serious trouble.

                      If what you are saying were true, physicians would not be vaccinating every kid 49 times before they reach the age of 6. Diligent consumers are often anti vaxxer parents. They have fought tooth and nail to keep their children from being vaccinated. Not only have they not gained much ground, they’ve lost it. First, the authorities keep their kids out of school and then they hold the parents responsible for their child’s truancy.

                      You talk about the claims of efficacy being largely anecdotal. Everything is anecdotal in the “learning as we go” stage!!!! When Alexander Fleming first noticed some weird mold stuff killing colonies of staphylococcus in a petri dish, he didn’t know why or even if what he was seeing would prove to be a viable way of treating boils, sore throats and abscesses. With something new, there is never “strong” evidence of anything, but if you see something interesting, you pursue it.

                      You say there is scant evidence about the risks and benefits of hydroxychloroquine or azithromycin. These drugs have been around a very long time so I would argue the risks are pretty well known. The benefits? The choice to use these drugs with hundreds of thousands of patients (if true) is because (so far), it’s all we got. That’s a pretty big benefit.

                      In terms of it’s “unethical use” because there has been no time to perform studies with placebo controls, I can just see a physician coming out of the doctor’s lounge saying, “Ma’am, I’m sorry. We think it’s unethical to try an untested drug on your husband that has, admittedly, worked on other patients so we’re going to let your husband die. I hope you understand. Ethics and all that.”

                      Speaking of testing, how do you feel about the ethics of pushing an untested vaccine down the whole world’s throat?

                      With respect to “faulty calculations,” one can hardly get past the numbers we’ve seen with those crazy models or the decision to attribute every death of a COVID positive patient, to a COVID death. Talk about skewing the numbers.

                      I think the scientific community you are so rigorously trying to defend has lost a considerable amount of credibility. If you didn’t have consumers flooding search engines before, you will now. This event has been a true game changer.

                • “My point was over a 30 day period you would not have much data.”
                  Would you care to explain this “point”? How much time is enough in your opinion, in the context of an unprecedented pandemic where every day counts? Simply, why won’t you admit that the entire premise for this essay was bunk? In writing this piece, it is clear that you thought you found something truly newsworthy when you found what seemed like a rapid “about-face” from the FDA. Realizing that 30 days had elapsed, rather than just 3, you’re still insisting on defending this piece as worthy of discussion. I don’t understand. 

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    I did explain my point, John, over and over again. You’re right, you don’t understand. Unfortunately, that’s not something I can help you with.

            • George Michalopulos says

              ROU, first of all, the chronology error as stated was mine, not Gail’s.

              Secondly, as a pharmacist, I can tell you that the FDA moves with all the speed of a tortoise in the blazing sun.  Trust me, I know.  I remember when Plavix lost their patent, the company that made it fought tooth-and-nail to extend it and/or prevent the generic (Clopidrogel) from coming out.  And it was ready to be shipped out.  The generic companies had to wait almost 4 yrs before they could legally sell their FDA-approved product.

              Similarly with Soma & Ultram going “on Schedule” (i.e. classify them as narcotic/controlled drugs).   We’re talking at least four  years for that to happen.  The same thing is now happening with Gabapentin (which is C-IV in Missouri but nowhere else as far as I know.  Bureaucracies and efficiency are two words you’ll rarely find in the same sentence. Or paragraph.
              Forgive the verbosity but I’ve been doing this gig going on four decades and I’ve never seen the FDA act with this kind of alacrity
              on anything –even drug recalls.  

              Third, the dreaded “Q-T interval” that Hydroxychloroquine supposedly prolongs is well-documented and is well within the parameters of medical practice and well worth the risk/benefit analysis.  Again, like tens of thousands of other pharmacists, I have dispensed #60 Plaquenil (Hydroxychloroquine HCl) tablets monthly to people with Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis (two tablets daily) with absolutely no deleterious side effects. 
              Even Lariam (Chloroquine), which is given for malaria prevention to people who plan on traveling to Africa regularly, again with only mild side effects.  (Lariam and Plaquenil are almost identical in molecular structure; think Ampicillin and Amoxicillin.)

              Gail’s (and mine and a host of others’) concerns can be boiled down to this:  why all the furor about HCQ, the speed to denounce it, and the exaggeration of a drug that has been around for over 60 years?

              Again, I can’t help but think:  “follow the money”.  Or more nefariously, keep as many people sick and scared for as long as possible.

      • George Michalopulos says

        This is probably why The Godfather is one of the greatest movies of all time: “Follow the money” became part of the American then global lexicon.

        Even Rita Wilson didn’t like the side effects of Hydroxychlorquine/Zpak but she’s alive and well.

        Seriously, follow the money. The trash-talking of HCQ is because it’s cheaper than dirt and investors in Gilead don’t want the competition.

  2. Monk James Silver says

    Christ is risen, truly risen!

    I suspect that if President Trump weren’t touting that drug so much, none of this would have happened.
    It would be better for him to keep his therapeutic opinions to himself —  public figure as he is — and let medical experts express themselves in public venues about the significance of the data so far available.  I trust hat they say —  not Mr Trump’s opinions about medicine.
    That little bit of reticence might restore some of the dignity of the American presidency which Mr Trump has worked so hard to erode.

    Please remember that I am not involved in politics, merely in history, and that these events are memorable.

    • Ronda Wintheiser says

      Monk James Silver…

      You are absolutely correct that if Donald Trump hadn’t touted the drug, use of it would have gone forward without any of these glitches.

      Hm. Wonder why.

      Because Orange Man Bad, that’s why.

      And speaking of history, what is truly memorable is your ad nauseum ad infinitum reminders about how very above politics you are. Why keep reminding us?

      It’s tiresome, and it’s also a bunch of BS. 🙂

      • Brendan says

        Indeed: “That little bit of reticence might restore some of the dignity of the American presidency which Mr Trump has worked so hard to erode” is a political claim, not a historical one.

        • You took the words right out of my mouth, Brendan. For a man who keeps claiming that he is not political…he sure is political.

      • Monk James Silver says

        Christ is risen, truly risen!
        Ronda Wintheiser, I haven’t ever written anything here to suggest that I’m ‘above’ politics, whatever you think that such an attitude on my part might imply.
        At the same time, I realize that some things I write can easily be taken for political positions, although I do not intend them to be so understood.  The fact that such misapprehensions occur causes me to offer a disclaimer now and then, protesting that ‘I don’t do politics.’  
        I regret that you find this irritating —  it is not my intention to offend you or anyone.  A Hindu proverb comes to mind:  ‘If you are disturbed by small matters, does that not indicate something about your size?’
        Even bad news can be delivered kindly, so perhaps just take me at my word, and try to respond here —  if you must —  in a more cordial, more respectful, more Christian tone.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          When you write that Trump would be “better off keeping his therapeutic opinions to himself — public figure as he is” or that Trump has “eroded the dignity of the American presidency,” it’s hard to reconcile that with your other statements that you, “don’t do politics” but rather “observe the comments coming from the left and from the right with equal skepticism.”

          Cause to me it looks like you definitely drank the Kool-Aid on the left. – When I think of someone who doesn’t do politics, I think of someone who doesn’t put any energy into the formation of political opinions. That’s not you. Nothing wrong with having strong opinions, but you can’t be above it all while you’re slinging mud.

          Maybe the true source of irritation isn’t the definition, but the incongruency of statements. For example, saying it’s not one’s intention to irritate and then to suggest the other person, and the matters that concern her, are small. Small means unimportant. If someone called me small, I would be irritated! And to suggest she could use some pointers in her delivery if she “must respond” (might as well say you hope she doesn’t) with respect to being more cordial, respectful and Christian! Really?

          • Monk James Silver says

            Yes, really. 
            I don’t think that I ever accused anyone of being ‘small’.  Wherever did you get that, dear Gail?

            • Gail Sheppard says

              In response to Ronda, you said:

              I regret that you find this irritating — it is not my intention to offend you or anyone. A Hindu proverb comes to mind: ‘If you are disturbed by small matters, does that not indicate something about your size?’

              • Sage-Girl says

                I love President Trump – ??
                I’m so missing his daily White House Press briefings – made Americans feel consoled & assured things will get better knowing our Wartime President is at the helm! GO TRUMP!⭐️

                But nasty jealous Leftists, so intimidated by his great gift to rally his troops put a stop … pray he returns bigger + better

              • Monk James Silver says

                Christ is risen, truly risen!
                I think I’ll just leave it alone now, since so much of what I write here gets twisted far off its intended meaning.

                • Mikhail says

                  It seems that the majority are perceiving your words the same way. Therefore, if something is being “twisted”, it is because you have not properly related the meaning of your statements. The “twisting” is happening only in your perspective.

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    And, it is being perceived this way by the people who you know love you.

  3. Jacob Lee says

    People with TDS just can’t help themselves.

  4. Thank you Gail for always trying to make certain responders to George’s posts to “see the light” of their of their own superiority and laud it over others, constantly.

    • Sage-Girl says

      There’s cure for TDS – leave the country …
      psychiatrists have long held, before PC muzzled them: 
      Liberalism IS a mental disorder  –

    Excellent and sobering statement from a God-fearing priest.

  6. Brendan says

    Once upon a time there was a city – a shining city on a hill, perhaps. Unfortunately this city was also a fortress. It had strong walls and fortified gates. Why? Because it needed them. Why did it need them? Because it was under siege. Beyond its walls and outside its gates were armies, legions, of orcs which every now and then tried to break down the defences and force their way in to wreck and plunder that city in an orgy of destruction and death. The Castellan, the Governor, of the city could see no end in sight. His vigilance was ceaseless.
    Then, one day, a man came to offer assistance. This man (let us call him Wormtongue) said: “If you put all your defences under my command, I will defeat the attacking army of orcs and lift the siege.” “And how will you do that?” asked the sceptical Governor.
    “I shall make a breach, a small breach, in your walls” replied Wormtongue, “through which I shall introduce a troop of orcs which I have trained to be less destructive than usual. As well as carrying smaller weapons, they will be equipped with noxious substances to taint your stocks of food and water. This will cause some of your defenders to leave the walls to deal with the mayhem caused behind their backs by my semi-house trained orcs. The experience gained from this will make them better defenders of your fortress.”
    “But,” replied the perplexed Castellan,” there are many armies of orcs of various kinds beyond the walls, all trying to break in and destroy the city.” Wormtongue smiled. “Don’t worry,” he said. “For every kind of orc that attacks the walls, I will train a troop which I will insert through a breach, a small breach, to attack the defenders from behind and make them stronger.”
    “But what if they all come at once?” asked the (by now) thoroughly bemused Governor. “It’s not a problem” oozed Wormtongue with seeming sincerity. ” I will just bring in a troop (a small troop) of each kind through a number of breaches (small breaches) in the defences, all at once – and your defenders will acquire even greater experience in dealing with orcs than they could ever acquire by keeping them out of the fortress in the first place.”
    The Castellan said: “I fear I must decline.
    I’d sooner cut my own throat
    before I let you defend me and mine.”

  7. Mikhail says

    This needs to be watched before YouTube takes it down.

    • Gail Sheppard says


      • George Michalopulos says

        We watched it last night. Has anybody heard whether it has been taken down?

    • I was already too late to see this.  Mikhail and Gail – any chance of a content summary?  Thanks!

    • Flavius says

      For those looking for a good round-up to push back against the ‘plandemic’ nonsense, this is a decent starting point:

      • Great example of gatekeeping.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Anytime someone wants to convince you that some truth isn’t (truth), look at the number of times they use the word “conspiracy.” Your gal used it 14 times, God bless her. I’m sure she’s doing her best. But nothing she’s said or could possibly say will erase the power of that video.

        There is a REASON people are passing it around and there is a REASON it’s being taken down. Why? Because it’s important enough for people to pay attention to. Believe me, people are fact checking it themselves just like I am. It’s not going to go away until every thing she said can be disproved.

        When you’ve got something like that, share it with us.

        • Flavius says

          You asked for a detailed debunking of the entire thing, here is a minute-by-minute breakdown:

          It is akin to drinking from a firehose, which is why I suggested the Forbes blog piece first, which had lots of additional links.

          There is a reason the plandemic video is being taken down: it is dangerous misinformation that is more or less entirely false. Taking it off a site is like taking a box of hand grenades away from a toddler.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            Well, actually, I didn’t say that. I said the video wasn’t going to go away until what Mikovits is claiming can be disproved. The interest isn’t so much in her as it is in the role Fauci played in what happened to her.

            What you’re offering is something some anonymous person named iIenzo wrote on reddit who admits his area of expertise is ancient history. Research is not his strong suit. He’ll make comments and attach links that don’t support what he is saying. To demonstrate this, I picked the following at random:

            Per iIenzo: She [Mikovits] was arrested after being fired due to her old employer accusing her of theft, charges were eventually dropped (
            There is nothing in this article about her being fired by her old employer and the charges in the CRIMINAL case were not dropped; they were dismissed. The article says, “the district attorney in Washoe County, Nevada, filed a criminal complaint” then “filed a petition to dismiss the criminal charges against Mikovits without prejudice”.

            A dismissal means the court or prosecutor has decided the charge against you should not go forward, terminating the case. However, a case that is dismissed “without prejudice” is only dismissed temporarily. This temporary dismissal means that the plaintiff is allowed to re-file charges, alter the claim, or bring the case to another court. – When charges are dropped it means the prosecutor has declined to pursue the case.

            In a separate CIVIL case, her former employer, “filed suit against Mikovits” and she was “still defending herself in the civil case” at the point the article was published.

            The charges were not dropped in either case; not according to the evidence he provided. iIenzo gets an “A” for effort but “needs improvement” on his analysis.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Flavius, in the interest of fairness, I will take the time to view the reddit post you linked.

            The larger question is why is YouTube moving heaven and earth to take it down constantly?  As well as other doctors who are presenting alternative takes to the COVID orthodoxy?

            The real issue is (1) censorship and (2) not wanting other POVs to get out.
            Seriously, I am fearful for Dr John Ioannides at this point.

        • She’s sharing her full book online in PDF format:
          Let her research speak for itself. I look forward to reading it.

      • RIP (reluctant internet poster) says

        Did the Lifehacker piece she linked to miss anything? (serious question, as I haven’t seen the video).  I clicked on that and read it instead because the ads on the Forbes article kept freezing up my screen….

  8. Brendan says

    Too late…!!!
    Wayback Machine doesn’t have it archived either.
    What was it about?

  9. Anxiety From Reactions to Covid-19 Will Destroy At Least Seven Times More Years of Life Than Can Be Saved by Lockdowns”

  10. Not sure if my previous comment made it through (am having posting issues on my end)
    But, George and Gail, have you seen the latest news coming out of GOARCH regarding their possible solution to reception of communion?

  11. I saw it on Instagram so it may be hard to publish a link (I’ll try)
    Basically what they are talking about possibly doing is using a different spoon for each person to take the Eucharist and disposing of the spoon afterwards. Along with that, rather than using one communion cloth, each person will have an individual cloth that will be burned/disposed of afterwards 

    • George Michalopulos says

      Oh Good Lord in Heaven! Is there no balm in Gilead?

      • Apparently the balm is dry ??‍♂️ 
        I’ll hold my breath in hope though. To be fair I’ve given the GOA A LOT of leeway. But when you mess with the Eucharist, that’s the last straw. I have to believe many priests don’t feel the same way, which was alluded to in a recent episode with Fr. Evan Armatas, but, the straw that broke the camels back is quickly approaching for me 

        • The back is already broken. It is being  held together by a brace. If they go down this rabbit hole, the brace will fail.

        • Juliana says

           The OCA is doing similar to the Eucharist. Here is the directives from the synod:
          Here is a diocesan directive list:
          As a recent convert, this entire experience has been very disheartening. I am very grateful to the poster who linked Father Peter Heers podcasts.  

          • Gail Sheppard says


            I am SO VERY SORRY the timing of your entry into the Church has coincided with perhaps one of the greatest upheavals our Church has experienced in a very long time. The enemy is literally at our door. Consider it an honor that God brought you into our midst at this particular time for He is confident that your Faith is strong enough to sustain you. Be assured your brothers and sisters in Christ surround you with our love and protection through our prayers and that God, Himself, is with you. We are honored that you have chosen our little space here. Please do not hesitate to reach out to any of us, especially to me or to George, should you need us. The email address on the contact screen is George’s direct email address. We would be honored to help you on your journey. You will find many other great resources on this blog, as well. – Thank you for bringing these directives to us. Looks like we have some work to do. I’m glad you’re with us, Juliana. Welcome.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Juliana, I heartily concur with Gail. This blog is not only an outlet, a forum, what-have-you, but also a family.

          • Juliana, I’ll repost something that I put on here a while ago:
            A monk I met once told me that he often tells inquirers “Orthodoxy: Prepare to be Disappointed!” i.e. put your fantasies aside and prepare for a big dose of realism. The Church is perfect, because it is Christ’s own Body, but its people (including the clergy) are… less so.
            Welcome home!

        • What was super helpful for me was to hear Fr Peter Heers’ take — that the most important two commands for Christians are to love and worship God, and to love our neighbor as God loves us (to “love our neighbor as ourselves” as it’s often translated).  These two commandments can NEVER contradict or be mutually exclusive, according to Christ Himself. 

          However, many in leadership positions in our society are stating that in order to fully love our neighbor, we must refrain from worshipping God. And conversely, that if we worship God, we risk hurting our neighbor. 

          These statements should give all serious Christians pause and definitely merit reflection.  These statements are dangerously close to – if not the same thing as – what the Antichrist will direct people to do, i.e., that worshipping the True God is harmful for everyone. 

          I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I think these dubious statements merit discussion – discussing these issues certainly does NOT merit shaming for bringing it up, as some are wont to do. FWIW, I highly respect many Orthodox leaders, including Patr Kirill, who have advocated caution with mass attendance at liturgy during these coronavirus times.

          It’s also crucial to note that western style Christian worship – which can often be accurately depicted as not much more than “a lecture and a concert” – is much better suited to being watched online than is sacramental Orthodox worship, which requires participation of all the senses.  I’ve quit watching Orthodox services online because I grew to find it depressing and silly. 

  12. Brendan says

    Here is a 1hr 21 min interview with Dr Wolfgang Wodarg explaining just what is going on with this coronavirus pandemic, who aims to profit and how they will do it. It is compelling viewing:

      Here’s another with Dr. Wodarg.  Some of his stuff evidently has been censored by some providers.
      He asserts that this is all hype, like Global Warming, for political influence and funding of scientific/medical “solutions”.  That is highly likely as it regards the medical community’s dog in this fight.  You may recall Michael Crichton’s book State of Fear about the climate alarmism industry.
      Just another conspiracy theory?  No, it’s playing out in realtime on your tv right now.  And it’s killing the economy.  Time to wake up.

      • Cancellation of hospital services are predicted to account for $161.4 billion of lost cash flow. Health systems are expected to lose $36.6 billion due to high costs for treating COVID-19 patients over the course of four months.
        And apart from hospitals, physician practices and surgery centers have been at a virtual stand-still, though they are beginning to reopen.
        Bottom line:  If one “follows the money” this is a huge loss to the medical community.   I would look elsewhere for conspiracies..

        • Gail Sheppard says

          We’re talking about people who want to hold the medical community hostage along with the rest of us. These billionaires see big money in a world-wide vaccine, the necessity of which has not and cannot be proven, as the need doesn’t exist.

          I would be very hesitant to get on the bandwagon of this new vaccine, as it will have been made in record time under the worst possible circumstances.

          By way of example, the first Salk’s vaccine was pushed out to eradicate another highly feared virus called polio which, at its peak, paralyzed or killed 5000,000 people worldwide, per year.

          Compare this number to the flu, that results in 250,000 to 500,000 deaths worldwide, per year. Why do we keep comparing viruses to the flu? Because we are not afraid of the flu. The only difference between the flu and polio is the fear factor and COVID is the new poster child for fear.

          With regard to the COVID vaccine, the best case scenario is that it won’t hurt us. But how can we count on it to be safe or effective, when “experts” are saying, “. . . given the current pressure to stave off the pandemic, a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready sooner, as long as scientists and regulatory agencies prove willing to take a few shortcuts.” Shortcuts?

          Yeah, I’ll pass. Vaccines created under similar circumstances have been known to create other health issues.

          Like SV40, for example. It can now be traced back to the earlier polio vaccines. Dozens of scientific studies have found the virus in a steadily increasing number of rare brain, bone and lung-related tumors. Not only is SV40 showing up in people who had the earlier vaccine, it’s showing up in people who didn’t have the earlier vaccine but were exposed to children who did; the same thing we’re seeing with vaccine-induced polio.

          They, meaning the WHO and its top contributors, Bill & Melinda Gates, know the oral vaccine gives people polio and the people who get vaccine-induced polio can, in turn, infect other people, but they continue to use it. Why? Not because there aren’t alternatives, because there are. They continue to use it because it’s cheaper and easier to administer and, well, because Bill Gates wants to. Even the WHO admits Bill Gates has too much authority when it comes to global policy. Gates isn’t an M.D. nor does he have the temperment to listen to an M.D., or anyone else who doesn’t agree with him. He gets what he wants and he wants to come out with a vaccine for COVID, keeping us “safer-at-home” with Oprah until he does.

          Why would I want to wait around for a new vaccine, created by a man who disseminates vaccines that give people polio, to protect me from a virus that is shaping up to be about as lethal as the flu?

          I wouldn’t.

          They seem to have a remedy (hydroxychloroquine) for a great number of patients that is relatively cheap compared to whatever Gilead would come out with. The last time Gilead saved the day, it was with a Hep C solution that cost $84,000, per person; $1000 per pill, per day for 12 weeks. I wonder how much the COVID vaccine is going to cost?

          The patent owners of the new vaccine have a vested interest in keeping us doing the social distancing thing so their market doesn’t dry up. If it truly is going to take 18 months to develop the vaccine (I suspect it will take a lot longer) but we start opening our doors and going out into the population now, we will all be infected by the time the vaccine is ready so there will be no need for it. You know what? Here’s the dirty little secret: They’ll make you get it anyway. Even if you can PROVE you’ve had it. They’ll say they can’t prove you have lifelong immunity like you might with another virus. Why can’t they prove it? Because they won’t try.

          Expect heavy pressure to remain in lockdown mode or close to it.

          • Concerned Reader says

            Recently, I have been spending more and more time reading old posts on Monomakhos (thank you for preserving these for posterity). As someone who has only recently discovered the website, it’s a little sad to realize how many of the wonderful commentators that used to write under these posts have permanently left (feeling sorry for myself mostly). All those erudite priests, or respected professionals, M. Stankovich comes to mind, that used to write here – truly enriched the blog – making it a unique place for English-speaking Orthodox to meet and discuss any range of issues. Now it seems what’s left is an amen chorus. I suspect that the main reason for the exodus of worthy commentators and the turning of this blog into yet another echo chamber, was the non-stop favorable coverage of Trump – objectivity be damned. Just as I am able to navigate to the National Herald’s website, without Greatly Saddened’s links, I am also able to go to Breitbart myself if I really need to see what the current cause celebre is on the right. 
            More recently, however, I believe your coverage of COVID-19 has put the final nail in the coffin. Something M. Stankovich once wrote as a comment seems very appropriate now, in relation to the material you are putting out. Allow me to quote him briefly: “What do you think is happening and what should we do? I have 3 good ideas and 2 standard responses. I hope you are thinking, “I’m a pharmacist, and I am not qualified to make these decisions.”” He wrote this after a description of a hypothetical situation where you encountered a sick hiker in the woods. The article above is the best proof of Stankovich’s words. Stick to what you know. I shudder every time George and Gail invoke the “as healthcare professionals” line when writing about COVID-19. Your writing on Orthodox issues is what made this site popular and necessary. Your ruminations on finance, matters of law, epidemiology, and most recently – MEMES – I believe are best left out the spotlight. Of course it’s your blog, and you can post whatever the hell you’d like – but I don’t think you are happy that so many good voices have been silenced. 
            I don’t have much faith that this comment will be published. However, I felt that someone had to point out that this blog is rapidly turning into a depressing echo chamber because of the editors writing on topics of which they have no clue. 

            • George Michalopulos says

              Daniel, thank you for your critique.

              FYI, Monomakhos is, has been, and always will be committed to free speech. Some of the people who have chosen to not return did so for a variety of reasons. The only criteria that we employ for removal are (1) continuous argumentation in bad faith, and (2) libelous discussion.

              As far as political leanings, I plead guilty. If I may though, many who have taken umbrage at my political arguments do so because they can’t take the heat of my (or other people’s) rebuttals. I will defend POTUS when (1) I agree with him or (2) when the argument proffered by Larry Liberal or Orange Man Bad is specious.

              For the record, here is where I don’t agree with The Golden Don:

              1. the creation of a new military branch (the Space Force),
              2. the closing down of the economy (which I believe is due to bad advice), and
              3. he has not sent in Delta Force to arrest and imprison the Deep State.

              • Sage-Girl says

                Yes GM – indeed, why hasn’t the President sent in Delta Force?to imprison the Deep State – what exactly is holding him up? 

            • Mikhail says

              Dear Daniel,
              I think that Monomakhos is the crème de la crème of Orthodox blogs. It is more interesting and encompassing than ever before! Of course, as a conservative and an Orthodox traditionalist, it is my cup of tea…and I certainly disagree with your synopsis.

            • Brendan says

              The name of the blog is Monomakhos, not Monophthalmos.
              George allows more than one subject and more than one viewpoint.
              In other words, he does not run a propaganda sheet.

          • ROU Killing Time says

            A COVID-19 vaccine is going to be a profit center for precisely nobody. Governments, philantropists, non-profits and private firms will probably collectively set tens of billions of dollars on fire in the effort to develop an effective vaccine. As much money as this is, it is a drop in the bucket compared to the economic damage caused by the virus. Which is why you have literally dozens of projects, which will over time probably consolidate into something on the order of 8-15 serious candidates all being developed in parallel and finalists being prepared to be mass produced in parallel.
            As bad as COVID-19 is, it isn’t so dire as to require relaxing clinical safety testing protocols. The shortcuts are by running elements that can be run in parallel or with overlap, and doing things like building out production capacity that may never be used or even production that may be thrown away. The old adage of good, fast, cheap: pick two. Cheap is out the window. But these things are relative, $70 billion spent to develop and produce a vaccine boils down to less than $10 per person on the entire planet. Suggesting someone is going to make trillions of dollars from a COVID-19 vaccine is completely detached from reality.
            The field is well aware of the safety pitfalls in attempting rapid development:
            As to treatment, hydroxychloroquine is as expected turning out to be a giant dud. Remdesivir may have some very modest benefit, but the early results are not terribly strong and it is unlikely to be something that will see wide use accordingly. Some of the cocktails in testing may also have some modest benefit but are unlikely to be practical at scale. As far as a targeted therapy that may be of practical use prior to a vaccine, the best candidate is probably someone having an effective monoclonal antibody that can be produced at scale. I would not hold your breath waiting for a existing drug as a silver bullet therapy.

            • Brendan says

              “A COVID-19 vaccine is going to be a profit center for precisely nobody.”
              Really? Is that why the vaccine makers are all going broke?

            • RKT: “…the best candidate is probably someone having an effective monoclonal antibody that can be produced at scale.”
              Really? What about Vitamin D?
              “Vitamin D supplementation decreases the events related to respiratory tract infections. There is need of more well conducted clinical trials to reach to a certain conclusion.”
              Of course, the use of Vitamin D to prevent or treat coronavirus infection is not in the interests of pharmaceutical companies as Vitanin D cannot be patented.

        • Brendan says

          If you crash the economy and cause six trillions of losses,
          then sell seven trillions of vaccines, it’s an investment;
          particularly if your target market will be microchipped serfs
          who can’t go anywhere or do anything without your vaccine.

          • George Michalopulos says

            And then there’s the UBI (Universal Basic Income). Sign up here for your mandatory cash incentives! (And if you don’t mind, just put your hand forward so we can implant this tiny little microchip, that way you won’t have to bother calling the State because your payments will be automatic. After all, this is much more efficient!)

  13. Brendan says

    “A government-sponsored research strategy to address [Vitamin D and COVID-19] has not been developed, as officials explained that there was no mandate to explore an alternative to the existing vaccination program.”
    Why not? Because while there is money in vaccines, there is none in Vitamin D.
    Vaccines can be patented and Vitamin D cannot.
    I am irresistibly reminded of the excellent film Ace in the Hole.
    The same cynicism and greed operates at the highest level.

  14. Mikhail says

    I have a blessing to send this to everybody at Monomakos.


    Dear Living Ikons of the Lord Jesus,
    Christ is risen!
    By the Grace of God, I have had the sacred honor to serve our Holy Orthodox Church as a priest for nearly 47 years.  And thanks to the intercessions of my holy Spiritual Father of blessed memory, Geronta Ephraim of Arizona, it is as if I were ordained yesterday!  During my four years as an engineer in the USAF, I had a profession.   However, for nearly five decades, the Priesthood is my life!  With each new sunrise, thanks to our Most Beloved Panaghia, I am blessed to experience, within my heart, a minute increase in my small awareness of the incomprehensible and ineffable blessing that God has given us through the Holy Priesthood!As I have expressed before – in sermons, articles and retreats – God’s instrument of His salvation in this temporal world is His Bride — our Holy Orthodox Church.  It is what the devil fears the most.  Therefore, whenever he can succeed in diminishing Her witness of God’s Truth to our fallen world (He can NEVER completely overcome that divinely ordained witness!), it brings him and his demons much pleasure.  It is my sinful opinion, that the evil one must have been dancing gleefully for the past two months.  With extremely rare exceptions, 99% of the Orthodox faithful were not able to actively experience the unutterable “Mysterion,” of the Great Fast, Holy Week and Pascha.  That is because nearly every secular government, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, has decreed that worshipping God in our holy, consecrated churches is non-essential.Before proceeding further, let me make a clarification, as well as ask the forgiveness from those of you who feel that I have taken the impact of the virus too lightly.  You are correct, my beloved ones.  I have not shown true priestly concern, may God forgive me through your prayers, for those who have lost loved ones because of this virus, or who themselves are now experiencing permanent damage to their lungs as a result of it.  This virus is dangerous, especially for the elderly and those whose immune system is severely compromised.  What follows is simply the opinion of this worthless and unworthy priest.  The world has a critical need for our Orthodox Churches, all of them, to be open — now.  This is the quickest way to bring the deadly impact of this virus to an end.   When the Divine Liturgy is celebrated, as St. Maximos the Confessor explains, a large area around each church – and everything within that area: people, animals, plants, even inanimate objects – receives a blessing!  Within 75 miles of Pittsburgh, PA there are about 70 Orthodox parishes.  Think of how many blessings, how much of God’s healing Grace, will be poured out.  More importantly, think of how many souls – including yours – are: yearning to confess their sins and receive God’s healing and forgiveness, as they kneel under the Epitraheilion of their Spiritual Father; desiring to experience the ineffable joy of the Holy Liturgy and receive the precious and Life-giving Body and Blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; seeking to receive guidance from their priest for a personal problem or crises; wanting to spend quiet time in God’s home to pray, venerate holy ikons and, perhaps, be anointed by their priest with the holy oil from the vigil light on the Holy Altar, venerate a holy relic or light candles for personal needs or those of loved-ones; wanting to join with other parishioners, to offer a Small Supplicatory Canon to Panaghia – at least once a week – entreating our Holy Lady’s intercessions for both our personal needs, and the deliverance of our world from the evils of this virus; looking forward to attend a weekly Bible Class to learn more about the true teachings that are often hidden from us, until our priest shares with us the Spirit-filled Scriptural commentaries of our holy Church Fathers.My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, there is also this additional benefit – to us, our families and the societies in which we dwell.    When, for example, I come out of the Holy Liturgy, especially if I have received Holy Communion, then I carry within me that wonderful Grace which God has placed in my heart.   It is my personal conviction that, if I struggle to maintain an awareness of this wonderful blessing each day, until my next Holy Liturgy, then I can become a living vessel of that Grace, wherever I happen to go, between those Holy Liturgies!   And non-Orthodox, whose hearts are at least somewhat open to God’s truth, WILL receive a blessing from God through us.  What St. Paul describes as this “treasure in our earthen vessels” will be accessible to anyone, and anything, that is open to it.  Please know that I believe this with all of my soul, and I weep as I type these words to you!Therefore, I humbly entreat you to consider doing two things, especially the first one: (1) After prayer and fasting, and with the blessings of your Spiritual Father, prepare a letter to send to your Bishop, and entreat him to open your parish to any and all healthy parishioners, who want to come and worship.  Perhaps get several of your family and friends to sign on to your letter. (2) Please consider sharing this letter of mine with your friends and your Hierarch.  Tomorrow, God willing, I shall provide you with a suggested date and time, for as many of us as possible, to offer the Paraklesis (Small Supplicatory Canon) to the Theotokos — entreating our Holy Mother to present our humble request to our Most Sweet Lord Jesus.  May our Most Beloved Panaghia keep all of us under her divine, Holy Protection!My concluding words are for any Hierarch that reads my humble entreaty.  Your Eminences, Your Graces and Vladykas:  I give each of you my metanoia, kneel before you and kiss your blessed hands!  Thank you for your deep love for all of us, and your united efforts to both follow the secular guidelines and keep us safe.  Please forgive my boldness, but is it possible for all of you to give consideration to sending a letter to the President and to each Governor — requesting that those parishioners, who are not suffering from any immune system deficiencies or lung related anomalies, be permitted to freely worship in their respective parishes as soon as possible?  Each of you is blessed with Apostolic Succession, something that can never be explained or understood by our fallen reasoning.  And I believe that because of this unique divine Grace that God has bestowed upon you, every one of us who attends worship will be under the protection of your holy prayers.  Therefore, none of us will become vessels that will transfer that terrible virus to others while we are in church worshipping.  On the contrary, through your holy prayers, we will become vessels of God’s never-ending joy wherever we go, having been imbued with the innate holiness present in every Divine Liturgy and especially through the Life-giving Body and Blood of Jesus that will be flowing throughout our veins!  Please forgive me if my poor words offend any of you!  I just believe in my heart that we need to reopen the churches now, and I wanted to share that with you.  Bless me, holy Masters, a sinful and unworthy priest.To all my brother priests, deacons and laity who read my worthless words, please pray for me! Unworthy priest, +Demetrios 

    • What has been troubling is the naivete, bordering on stupidity, of our clergy regarding the nature of this “crisis”.
      Kungflu is actually not significantly more deadly, if at all, than the common flu.  I’m not actually convinced, though some here are, that it is significantly more transmissible either.  The easiest way to put a silver bullet in this Panic monster would be to faithfully print the number of common flu deaths with each and every report of Kungflu deaths.  Then people would be perpetually reminded that there is, in fact, no crisis at all and the whole thing is contrived from whole cloth.
      The stupidity of the American public in this regard astounds me.  Even informed, educated people are playing along with this nonsense.
      Who dunnit, then?  Our fourth branch of government, the MSM, is doing this to flex its muscles in a last attempt to injure the president after the Democrats in government failed regarding the Russia Hoax, SpyGate, Mueller and Impeachment.  Congressional Democrats are played out so now the portfolio has fallen to the MSM and this is their attempt at a hit job – nothing more, nothing less.
      So why is Trump playing along?  This is his tacit admission that he cannot yet exert more influence on the public than the MSM.  He could not prevent them from creating this crisis by needlessly terrorizing the public.  All he could do was to get out in front of it, play along as if it rose to crisis level, and then manage the imaginary crisis.  On this, he has done a very good job so far.
      But that is no excuse for our clergy not to call a spade a spade and close down the churches.  There is absolutely no more justification for closing down churches for this than there is every year for closing them down due to the seasonal flu – none.
      And that’s the rub.  Until I start hearing our clergy call a spade a spade and pronouncing the emperor naked, I will have little to no faith in their ability to lead us since they will fall for anything, evidently.
      How naive can a person in authority be without actually being irresponsibly spiritually dangerous?

      • Ioannis says


        “What has been troubling is the naivete, bordering on stupidity, of our clergy regarding the nature of this “crisis”.”
        Clergy is roughly 95% priests and deacons and 5% or less bishops.
        Bishops have ways of inducing most priests and deacons to obey. So, Misha, if we want to be precise, it appears that the main responsibility lies with the bishops rather than the whole clergy.

  15. Brendan says

    Why is there no surge in [coronavirus] infection
    after Easter [in Ukraine]?
    “But why is there no outbreak of infection predicted by the Chief Medical Officer with a hundred percent probability?
    The answer is as obvious to Christians as it is ridiculous to non-believers: God did not allow the Easter service to become a source of contagion. Archbishop Theodosius of Boyarka, the vicar of the Kyiv Eparchy, confidently declared this even before Easter, arguing that even if the authorities did not limit the number of believers on Easter night, no outbreak of coronavirus would follow.”

  16. Alitheia 1875 says

    I have a rather simple and short response to all of this….
    Has anyone in your family died of Covid 19, or been hospitalized and intubated?

    • Mikhail says

      I have a very simple and short question in response to your response. What does the tragic death of a loved one have to do with being locked out of the Church for months during the Great Fast, Pascha, Bright Week, and beyond?

    • Johann Sebastian says

      To answer Alitheia’s question: Yes. My father died and I became infected. I had–to put it mildly–a brief bout with some strange symptoms.
      While I think (and thought) closing the churches to be a prudent move, I’m not going to criticize anyone who thinks otherwise. However, as I said on here once before–long before the disease came knocking on my door–God gives us the ability to act prudently and wisely. If we attend Liturgy and commune not for “the healing of soul and body” but to prove a point, then we tempt God and make a mockery of Him. That said, taking the recommended infection control measures–and indeed going beyond–ultimately didn’t help us. We aren’t laypeople either. Everyone in our household, my father included, is/was a healthcare provider. None of us had been working for at least three weeks, so either the infectious period is significantly longer than two weeks or one of us got it while buying toilet paper.

      With regard to ecclesiological questions, I still remain firmly in support of the canonical Church even if I don’t necessarily think the practical approach of certain clergymen and hierarchs are the best. It pains me to see how some in the media make a mockery and spectacle out of them.

      Another bit of information: my father was refused hydroxychloroquine by the attending ER MD. A pulmonologist wasn’t called in for almost two days, at which time he was placed on the ventilator and finally given the drug. The pulmonologist acknowledged that administering it–along with other drugs, some of which weren’t readily available–would have been a wise move once Covid was suspected, but it was too little, too late.

      Regarding the nature of the virus and severity of this crisis–which I have been convinced of since the first cases trickled out of China–the attempts to question it are alarming and ultimately sabotaging to some wider geopolitical and sociological battles we are waging. We shouldn’t be fixated on the supposed libertarian and fiscal consequences of the quarantine. What we should be focusing on are an inordinate economic and logistic dependence on China, lax migration policies, and “politically correct” sensibilities that prevent us from calling out the backward, benighted, and barbaric cultural practices of certain “protected groups” lest we be branded racists. If we have any success on those fronts, resolution of the more transient concerns will fall into place.

      Right now, the naysayers are selling out the conservative cause. No different from the neocons, but this time they wear tin-foil hats.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        It’s not about proving a point.

        What a tragedy your father did not get the care he needed when he needed it. I am so very sorry, Johann. George and I have talked about how our first course of action will be to get on hydroxychloroquine. We know if we find ourselves in the ER first, it isn’t likely going to happen.

        • Johann Sebastian says

          The attending seemed to want to prove a point. I had asked about the viability of a multidrug approach to attack what was known about the mechanisms of the disease at the time. Proning (laying the patient on his stomach at an acute angle) with inhalational oxygen. Hydroxychloroquine to combat some of the hematologic effects. Inhalational nitric oxide to inhibit clotting and viral replication. Remdesivir or another antiviral to attack the virus directly. Vitamin C, zinc to mitigate oxidative tissue/organ stress. Azithromycin to combat sepsis if needed.

          I’m not an MD, but as a dentist, I know a little bit. I consulted with my father’s brother-in-law, a retired vascular surgeon, my cousin (also recovered Covid-19 patient) who is a practicing cardiologist, and my aunt who is a GP. All felt the approach reasonable, and given almost no hope, the consensus was “why not try?” The pulmonologist–a friend of my aforementioned uncle for more than 40 years–agreed and proceeded with our experiment, all the while the intial attending MD protested and dismissed our efforts as feeding into popular speculation and anecdote in the absence of hard and proven clinical evidence. Her next line of defense was that the Covid test results had not yet been received, although she consistently referred to my dad as a “presumed Covid case.”

          My answer was that in times like this, we don’t have the luxury of adhering to established protocols waiting for that evidence. If theory supports it and the outcome will be adverse if no action is taken, then the argument can be made that taking any available action–even if just by reasonable inference–will do far less harm than doing nothing. As a practitioner–and although I don’t deal with life-and-death situations, I’ve been there to a lesser degree–there’s always a cover-your-ass attitude that makes us play the part of Perry Mason instead of Marcus Welby. While these guidelines, regulations, and protocols were designed to protect, they can in many circumstances be counterproductive and do more harm than good.

          My father did make some short-lived improvements during his time on the machine. His cardiac condition was of principal concern to all but his heart failed about 18 hours after he went into multi-organ failure, at which time we were finally allowed into the hospital to see him as we were told the end would come within 1-2 hours. His heart failed long after everything else did.

          We’ll never know if the treatment measures would have saved him. He was in a vulnerable group with multiple underlying issues, although none of them were causing him acute problems and all were under stable control. His last cardiac event was in 2002–with another one ten years prior. Even with earlier testing, he wouldn’t have been admitted to hospital until he was showing the symptoms he was showing, and who knows how the course would be different had the positive status been known prior to his being intubated.

          What we do know is that if China had been more forthcoming with what was going on in Wuhan, if certain people (here’s looking at you Nancy and Chuck) didn’t protest when measures were proposed early on to close ports, border crossings, and travel into and out of certain countries, if there wasn’t an overarching fear of criticizing China–thousands of American citizens, my father included, would be, for the time being at least, alive.

          There would be no need for quarantines or lockdowns or stay-at-home orders in this country, because the dragon would have been contained beyond our shores. I knew this then, I know this now. Unfortunately, there are many prominent people who claim to be on the right–who are turning this into another matter and losing sight of the core problem (which itself arose from other, deeper problems). This is our chance to make our case that what we have facing us is a direct consequence of nearly 60 years of bad policy, perhaps more. Great Society, indeed.

          To be fair, there are things the current administration could have done better, but once the virus reached our shores, the conflagration was already out of control. The weak links were China and those who enabled and made excuses for her malfeasance.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            Didn’t Einstein say, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

            We’ve been listening to the “experts” for too long. We’ve followed their recommendations. People are still dying. It’s time to try something different. – The viability of a multidrug approach has worked before. A “cocktail” approach is why HIV is no longer a death sentence.

            In my own medical history, I got pseudomonas on the synoid bone which is next to the brain because of a bad sinus infection that was made worse by flying out of town every week. I worked in country hospitals where I was exposed to everything known to man. No antibiotic in the early 80s could treat it back then The surgeons insisted they had to go in through my face 8 to 15 places and scrape off the bone hoping they could get it all or I would be dead within 10 days. I guess I could have done that. You end up with no face but, hey, you might get to live that way. (snark)

            In the past, prednisone would help when I had sinus problems so I had them pump me full of that instead. I had to have an outside doctor order it because the hospital physicians connected with my case wouldn’t do it. Within days, I got better and was discharged. The point is, if I had let those doctors do what they normally do in situations like mine, I would have had to live without a face and that’s if I didn’t die. I had a 4 month old son at home waiting for me.

            Sometimes you’ve got to think outside the box. . . if only people would let you. They are too afraid of going against the “experts.” I work with experts all the time and trust me they don’t have all the answers.

            • Johann Sebastian says

              “Sometimes you’ve got to think outside the box. . . if only people would let you. They are too afraid of going against the “experts.” I work with experts all the time and trust me they don’t have all the answers.”
              Amen to that.
              I will add that sometimes fear of lawyers and litigation prevent innovative (and often everyday common-sense) thinking and action.

  17. Mikhail says

    If anyone would like to see something absolutely horrifying, read the new OCA directives…and the directives from Bp Mark of Philadelphia. They can be viewed at the Byzsnyine Texas blog. Here are some of the lowlights.
    Parishioners must wear facemasks at all times and the priest can wear face shields during Communion. 
    Social distancing markers in the Communion line.
    No physical veneration of Icons, hand Crosses, or the priest’s hand.
    Parishioners attending can be documented/tracked in case of future outbreaks.
    Individual paper towels or Kleenex can be used instead of the Communion cloth and thrown in a basket to be burned.
    Zapivka and Antidoran can be discontinued if they cannot be distributed in a safe manner.
    Priests must alter their censing patterns or wear facemasks while sensing.
    Etc. Etc. Etc.
    The OCA has just revealed who they are and what they believe. This is one of the most disturbing things I have ever read.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Oh, we’ll be documented and tracked, all right. People who go to Church are enemy #1.

      • George Michalopulos says

        That is exactly my concern as well. I’m shocked that none of our bishops here in America could see this eventuality.

        • I always figured that if there were to be a downfall of Orthodoxy here in the U.S that it would be from a lack of any real evangelism. The bishops responses to COVID has gone beyond that in the amount of damage I thought possible, and we probably won’t know the full affects for a while. 
          What this is going to show is that the clergy are scared of the laity. We the laity are in essence a disease that must be distanced from. 

          Not being in the OCA myself, I am not able to comment on how people feel about this, but, I do know a lot of people in the OCA Diocese of the South, most/all of them converts, I’m not sure how the OCA (especially the diocese of the South) recovers from this. 

          GOARCH is letting the Metropolitans decide so we shall see…I’m more curious what my group (Antiochians) do 

          • Mikhail says

            The Greek Metropolitans and the Antiochians will be implementing things quite similar to the OCA. It seems that throughout this entire plan-demic, the Bishops have all been synchronized so as to appear as if they are all on the same page. 

      • Well if they want to take sanitation that far maybe they should remove the pews and just have people stand 6 feet apart. Good chance to sneak the removal of pews in

        • George Michalopulos says


          another silver lining to the current pandemic is the clarification of issues.

    • Matthew Panchisin says

      They’ve cracked over a virus. 

    • Linda Albert says

      And I thought this was a carefully thought out alternative to myself and others like me who have multiple co-morbitities to let us be in church and receive Holy Communion, rather than staying home altogether, which I do anyway, mostly. I thought my priest agreed to this because he genuinely loves all his parishioners and because some of us are truly vulnerable to the consequences of contracting the Carona virus. Myself, I would rather suffocate from pneumonia while staying home than lie in a hospital bed with a tube down my throat like a victim of Ridley Scott’s alien face hugger. But I’m terrified of this disease taking my husband of forty years. He is the roof tree of my home and the fire on the hearth thereof, if you understand my Gaelic. Without him, even though there might be a physical roof over my head, God only knows how, I would still be in a cold, dark world, subject to the whims of the elements. And my heart would lie in the grave with him.
      So I am more than grateful that the hierarchy has care for oh physical well-being as well as the health of our souls.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        I don’t know that anything would need to change to provide you the extra protection you need, while letting us worship in the way that gives us the peace that you have in knowing your husband is with you. To us, the Church is our mother and we have been separated from her for a very long time. The Eucharist is our husband and we have been separated from Him for a very long time, and from our Church family. I’m at a higher risk, too, but I am more afraid living like this than dying.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Linda, I grieve for you.   

        Please forgive me, and I do not mean to be snarky, but what difference does it make if one dies of “suffocating” in one’s home or “face down” on a ventilator  in an ICU?  How are our bishops “protecting us” by denying us the Eucharist?

        To all:  isn’t it disconcerting that we have accepted the terms of the debate on Fauci’s terms?  That we can go to church only if we sign in?  Oh sure, we can receive the Eucharist but only if we are approved to do so?  How is this different than the Traditorian heresy or Sergianism?

        Once we go down this path, Orthodox churches will be unrecognizable, one from the other.  In this church you can venerate an icon but you can’t receive antidoro.  In that church, the priest will wear a mask while he communes you but you can pick your own piece of antidoro.  That church over there will make you sign in  but the other church will have a signup sheet but it won’t be enforced.  

        And in every case, we will all tacitly accept the “fact” that the Eucharist can transmit disease.  And then, we shall stop believing that it is the very Body and Blood of Christ.

        Let us think carefully where this will all end.  This is madness.

  18. “So I am more than grateful that the hierarchy has care for our physical well-being as well as the health of our souls.”
    They are definitely took all caution to care for the flesh. But the fact that they locked the Churches down and prevented most from receiving the true medicine for the healing of both soul and body…means that they are not particularly worried about our spiritual well being.

  19. Linda Albert says

    Weren’t any of you on this blog taught how to avoid cross contamination, either in a bacteriology  lab or in a kitchen? I know George must have been so taught as he is a pharmacist. It’s really pretty simple. And taking the most precautions possible according to one’s knowledge doesn’t negate the faith. We pray while we row for shore with all our might.

    • Matthew Panchisin says

      Dear Linda,

      Yes, many of us on this blog have been taught how to avoid cross contamination.

      Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is present when a person repeatedly washes one’s hands. That’s what the covid-19 task force(s) and the CDC are telling people to do and become, germaphobes. Traditionally Orthodox Bishops and Priests don’t push on others or actualize such phobias for us in the Orthodox Church within the movements of the Divine Liturgy, germophobia is a passion, a sickness.

      Here are some relevant understanding from Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral,

      “Passions are the uncontrolled desires that come from our bodily needs. They subordinate our soul to our egoistic or self will. They come about because we forget about God and only think of our own needs.”

      The term heart is often used by our Church Fathers. Are they referring to our physical heart? No. Are they thinking about our emotions and affections? No, they are thinking of more than this. Here is how Saint Theophan the Recluse puts it “The heart is the innermost man, or spirit. Here are located self-awareness, the conscience, the reality of God and of one’s complete dependence on Him, and all the eternal treasures of the spiritual life.”