Over a year later, many people still live in fear of COVID-19. This pandemic has claimed millions of lives, has infected many more, and other dangerous variants are said to lurk just over the horizon.
Even though the odds of developing a serious case may be low, it can still leave us feeling vulnerable. Anyone who has heard of the painful and often life-threatening symptoms that can accompany this disease is urged to take caution.
But what kind of caution can we take? Other than wearing a mask and social distancing, what strategies for protection do we have? Experimental vaccines are now available through an Emergency Use Authorization, but not everyone is comfortable with this gene therapy solution. And for those who do take the shot, the treatment only promises to lessen symptom severity. Those who get vaccinated can still catch the disease and transmit it to others.
For those looking for other ways to guard against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, advice from real doctors on reliable options can be hard to find. Since the beginning of the pandemic, any information on remedies that may work for prevention and treatment has been routinely censored—even when they’re recommended by board-certified physicians.
The only remedy ever approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat COVID-19 is an expensive new drug called remdesivir. Otherwise, health officials have had little to offer. People who test positive are merely told to quarantine themselves for several days and seek emergency care if symptoms become severe.
A free booklet from the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) aims to fill the gap.“The Guide to Home-Based COVID Treatment” offers clinically successful protocols from doctors who have personally treated many COVID-19 patients. The treatments haven’t been subjected to randomized controlled trials to measure their efficacy against SARS-CoV-2, but they’re proven safe and inexpensive strategies against other viruses and have worked for many with COVID-19.
The remedies recommended in this booklet resemble those used for other viral diseases. And since they can be implemented from home, it reduces the spread of illness, because infected individuals will inevitably spread their disease in a public clinic or hospital.
Co-editor and author of the booklet is Dr. Elizabeth Lee Vliet, a board-certified physician practicing in Arizona who specializes in preventive medicine.
The Epoch Times talked to Dr. Vliet about the need for home-based treatment and how the official response to COVID-19 is different from any disease response in history.
The Epoch Times: Health officials have already issued guidelines about how we should address COVID-19. Why is this booklet necessary?
Dr. Elizabeth Lee Vliet: We are in an infectious disease war. I could not stand back and let my patients die on my watch if there were things I could do to help them. And it became clear fairly quickly in February and March 2020 that this was similar to other viral diseases. And if you treat a viral illness within the first few days of symptoms, you prevent the virus from establishing the infection. You prevent it from multiplying and causing more damage. It’s a very simple principle of preventative medicine. It’s what we’ve always done. It’s what doctors do. We treat disease early.
I was reading about what Dr. Peter McCullough, Dr. Zev Zelenko, and doctors in Italy were doing to treat COVID-19, and I learned that we could treat with antivirals quickly. We add cortico-steroids if there are signs of inflammation and we add anti-coagulants if there are markers of blood-clotting risk. It’s really pretty straightforward. Basic internal medicine with medicines that are FDA approved with a proven safety record. I’ve been doing it my whole career with these medicines. Why not apply them to a new viral disease? It just made common sense.
That’s what got me started. But the more medical evidence there was supporting these approaches, the more I was seeing the censorship of them.
The Epoch Times: I remember last year that any mention of taking vitamins C and D for COVID-19 was being censored. Social media companies said it was to prevent misinformation. But why would they try to prevent doctors from providing basic nutritional information, especially at a time when so many people feared for their lives?
Dr. Vliet: It was to drive control of the population through fear to get them to follow the vaccination campaign. That’s clearly the motive. There is no other explanation for the orchestrated attacks on vitamins, hydroxychloroquine, and now ivermectin to prevent early treatment, and censoring any doctor that posts about this on Twitter.
I was on Twitter for six years. I had about 80 thousand followers. I was summarily suspended from Twitter on Jan. 11 for posting medically correct information about the vaccine risk and about early treatment options that were available. My account was suspended without warning and with no reason given. There wasn’t anything medically incorrect that I had posted. I consider it my responsibility to read the medical literature and put it into layman’s language in the hopes that people understand their options. I’ve always done that. I’ve written seven consumer books on health care topics.
Doctors have a duty to educate patients and put it into language that patients can understand and not talk over their heads. It’s always been a part of being a doctor. Pythagoras in the 5th century BC said it’s the physician’s duty to teach men and women the physical and spiritual laws of life, and to live in accordance with God’s purpose for them.
The Epoch Times: Why is early treatment important for COVID-19?
Dr. Vliet: Because every viral treatment known to man has an early phase where the virus invades the cells of the body and then uses the cells of our body to multiply itself. Those two steps are the point at which a viral illness needs to be interrupted if you’re going to keep people from getting sick. I will tell you unequivocally that there is no doctor in practice in the United States that doesn’t know that from medical school. All physicians will say, “You’ve got to start Tamiflu within 48 hours if you get the flu, or it doesn’t work.” If you’re going to treat shingles, you have to talk to your doctor as soon as you feel the tingle, and see if you need antiviral medicine. If you’re going to treat herpes, same principle. Why are they choosing to ignore that principle with COVID?
Every viral illness starts that way. The more it’s allowed to progress, the more it takes over the cells and replicates itself. Then you have a viral load in the body that’s spread to others with coughing and sneezing, through touch, or through the stool, for example. Then you have a viral load that triggers inflammation. And the chemicals released during the inflammatory phase start doing their own damage to the body.
In the case of COVID, it’s even more critical to treat it early than it is with the influenza virus, because there are two unique aspects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. If the virus infects the cells and replicates, it increases the viral load in the first five days after you’re exposed. Then this virus triggers an exaggerated immune response of inflammation and damage. The second key difference is that it triggers a massive exaggerated blood clotting response, causing clots affecting critical organs.
It’s these two differences with COVID that made it absolutely critical to treat in the first week of symptoms, and not let it get past day seven.
The National Institutes of Health guidelines instructs people to stay at home until they have symptoms, and then have them go to the ER. So people would wait through two and a half weeks of symptoms. And by that point, this virus would have triggered an exaggerated inflammatory response which can lead to the lethal form of cytokine storm. And it can trigger the exaggerated blood-clotting response, and people were developing micro-blood clots throughout the lungs.
That’s a problem, and that’s why this virus absolutely had to be treated early to prevent those damages. Primarily what has killed people with COVID is a delay to treatment, and allowing the exaggerating inflammatory response and blood clotting response to take hold in the body. But by then, there is little we can do.
By the time people got to the hospital and into the ICU, the average mortality was running across the U.S. around 25 percent. That’s totally unacceptable. We’ve never had anything like that before during my career in medicine.
By preventing treatment for that long, you’re essentially putting 25 percent of those patients to death. The 75 percent that recovered then suffered long-term complications. We’ve seen pulmonary fibrosis developing. We’ve seen neurological complications, fatigue, heart damage. You’ve got inflammation of the brain, inflammation of the heart, kidney damage, and lung damage. All of these are consequences of waiting until the late stage to treat this virus.
It’s a potential death sentence. There’s no way around it. But they’ve consciously hidden that message. Our administrators and hospitals have financial incentives to keep people in the hospital. But physicians who work in hospitals are told they can’t use these early treatment medicines.
Never in the history of medicine, and especially in the history of modern medicine in the United States of America have you had agencies directing doctors to stand down and do nothing until the patient was critically ill and needed oxygen and had to go to the hospital. Never.
If you really consider what’s been done, it’s criminal negligence. Failure to treat is a malpractice case in any other area of medicine.
The Epoch Times: Your booklet focuses on the basics of good health: a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, getting fresh air and sunshine. How do these things help protect us against COVID?
Dr. Vliet: Many ways. I have a nutritionist and exercise physiologist who has been with my practice for 25 years, and we’re constantly working with our patients to reduce the dietary triggers of inflammation.
Hippocrates said 2,500 years ago, “Let food be thy medicine.” And it is. People can clean up their diet and reduce their risk of inflammation, which drives the COVID infection and damage. But also, healthy eating literally improves your immune function by many mechanisms.
Vitamins play a role because they’re co-factors in the enzyme pathways involved in the immune response. Vitamin D is not a vitamin, it’s a hormone. It improves immune function, but it actually plays many roles in the body. There have been numerous studies that show that low vitamin D levels put people at higher risk for breast cancer, prostate, and other cancers. I’ve been working with my patients for years, checking their vitamin D levels, and making sure they’re getting plenty of vitamin D.
We also get vitamin D from being out in the sunshine, not wearing sunblock, and letting your skin become a little factory that takes the sunlight and triggers the precursors to help your body. It’s why people who live in sunny climates can have higher vitamin D levels than those who live in northern climates where there are long winters.
Sunshine and fresh air have been known since ancient times as helpful in disease prevention. It was known in the flu pandemic of 1918. We have pictures in the museum in Arizona and other places where they actually moved hospital beds outside to get people sunshine and fresh air. You’re not recirculating the virus in a closed room if you’ve got the patient outside breathing fresh air.
All these people wearing the mask outdoors are inhibiting the normal mechanisms that get rid of the viruses. They’re just recirculating bad viruses and bacteria that make themselves more susceptible.
I watch people out in the sunshine in Arizona—running, riding a bike, or power walking wearing a mask. No one is around them doing their exercise. They’re decreasing their oxygen. They’re increasing the build-up of CO2—and some of them are a little older.
The Epoch Times: One of the medicines you recommend in your booklet is hydroxychloroquine. I’ve read that doctors in several non-Western countries are using this drug in early COVID treatment, but it remains very controversial here. Can patients trust this medicine?
Dr. Vliet: Hydroxychloroquine has been used for 65 years for all ages, from young children to people in their 90s and older, as well as pregnant and nursing mothers. The CDC and other agencies all over the world have always said this was safe.
Malaria prophylaxes [a treatment designed to reduce risk of getting an illness] with hydroxychloroquine is similar to the dosage we use for COVID-19. But I have patients on it for rheumatoid arthritis at larger doses for decades without complications.
The Epoch Times: Why is hydroxychloroquine considered such an important drug for early treatment of COVID-19? And why do they always combine it with zinc?
Dr. Vliet: Because a [2005 study from the Journal of Virology] showed that chloroquine and its derivative, hydroxychloroquine, in cell cultures blocked the virus from entering the cell at the ACE2 receptor, and blocked the SARS-CoV-1 virus from using our cells to multiply. So these drugs address the first two stages of viral illness.
The reason we focus on hydroxychloroquine as opposed to the older chloroquine is that chloroquine has a little more risk of prolonging the QT interval [causing fast, chaotic heartbeats]. Hydroxychloroquine has far less risk of that. So it’s a safer derivative.
It’s antiviral and it’s anti-inflammatory, so hydroxychloroquine actually hits two of the COVID mechanisms: the virus establishing the infection and the inflammation that the virus causes. In addition, hydroxychloroquine is a zinc ionophore. It helps zinc get into the cells to block the virus from multiplying. Zinc is needed with hydroxychloroquine to stop the replication inside your cells. They work together.
Hydroxychloroquine has been used as a drug to treat diabetes since the 1980s and even earlier. It’s a second-line diabetes drug in India. So it actually lowers glucose and hemoglobin A1C. And we’ve known that diabetes is one of the greatest factors of dying from COVID.
I’ve found articles published in the United States from the 1980s about its use in diabetes. It just got overwhelmed by the new, expensive diabetes drugs in the U.S. But in countries that don’t have the money to pay for the expensive diabetes drugs that we use, it’s commonly used to treat diabetes.
There are over 16 different cancer trials with hydroxychloroquine as an anti-cancer drug as well. I found some studies just a couple of weeks ago where they’re using it to stop the spread of prostate cancer. It’s an amazing drug.
It’s widely available. It’s inexpensive. It’s a generic medicine. A course of treatment for a week, which is all you need, probably runs around 20 bucks. You can pay cash for it, and you don’t need insurance. You can get a good RX coupon card that may bring the cost down to $10.
Pharmaceutical companies have ramped up production to make it available. It’s been a political suppression. It is medically available. It is FDA approved. And doctors are using it for every condition day in and day out.
Once a medicine becomes FDA approved, doctors are legally, ethically, and morally able to use medicines off-label. This means that if a drug is approved for rheumatoid arthritis and we think in our medical judgment that it could help a patient with osteoarthritis, we’re legally allowed to do that. In fact, about 20 percent of prescriptions written in the United States each day are for off-label uses of existing FDA-approved drugs for new uses.
I’ve been using FDA-approved medications legally off-label for a new use. FDA has already demonstrated their safety because they were approved years ago. And I’ve been using them successfully to treat COVID patients within the first three to five days of symptoms. I’ve had no hospitalizations, no deaths, and I’ve not had any patients develop the COVID long-haulers syndrome, because we treat it early.
China knew of the study on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in SARS CoV-1 that stopped the virus from entering the cells and multiplying in cell culture. The Chinese applied that information to the new SARS-CoV-2 virus, which shares about 79 percent of the viral genome of SARS-CoV-1.
I later found from reports from overseas that China had shipped millions of doses of hydroxychloroquine to Iran and Turkey in the fall of 2019. I thought, “Well, son of a gun. They had some inside knowledge.”
In January and February 2020, China was already using it in their hospitals, and Chinese doctors were sharing that information with South Korea and helped them get on top of it quickly. By March, India’s Council of Medical Research had already published on their government website using hydroxychloroquine for prophylaxis in health care centers across the country for health care workers and high-risk patients, and for treatment, and they were publishing the guidelines and the doses.
I had that available in March 2020 and I was using a similar dose with my patients here in the U.S. and it has worked beautifully.