DURING this pandemic, we usually hear the word “flattening the curve” from our medical experts. What does it mean? It means inhibiting new infections to reduce the number of cases at any given time, allowing health care services to better manage the volume of patients.
You may have seen a graph on social media called flattening the curve. The graph shows a tall, narrow curve and a short, wide curve. Through the graph is a line that shows how many people are sick that hospitals can treat. The tall curve goes above the line. That means too many people are sick at one time. We won’t have enough hospital beds for all the people who will need treatment. The flatter curve shows what happens if the spread of the virus slows down. The same number of people may get sick, but the infections happen over a longer span of time, so hospitals can treat everyone.
Now, there is a new term, “flatten the fear.” There is a group of doctors in the US who is advocating this. It is being replicated in the Philippines by some medical experts. The advocates said: “Together we ‘flattened the curve.’ Now, it’s time to ‘flatten the fear.’” Doctors from different countries are saying, “It’s okay to get back to work and re-open their respective country.”
The Philippines’ group is headed by former Health Secretary Jaime Galvez-Tan.
The group recommended hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as an oral prophylaxis or as a preventive measure against Covid-19. Called Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines (CDC-Phi), the group touted HCQ as an effective, safe, inexpensive and readily available intervention that focuses on early treatment and home quarantine for most patients and as a prophylaxis for high-risk individuals, such as medical frontliners.
They proposed to President Rodrigo Duterte that the country adopt a national protocol for prophylaxis and early treatment of Covid-19, aimed at reducing hospitalization and preventing loss of lives.
The group is also advocating for an end to quarantine lockdowns so that people can rebuild their lives. They group is willing to sit down with the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) to discuss their proposal that can be implemented at the barangay level.
The World Health Organization (WHO) removed the HCQ as one of the drugs included in the solidarity trial for possible Covid-19 cure. The WHO said it discontinued the use of HCQ, which is used in treating malaria, after it was proven that it did not offer any reduction in mortality among hospitalized Covid-19 patients. However, some members of the CDC-PH claimed that most countries that did not use HCQ had a higher case fatality rate than countries that used it.
Galvez-Tan also urged the public to go out and experience the sun, soak up vitamin D, which he claimed could help boost the immune system. Most of the studies show that if you are outside, the less likely or almost no Covid-19 transmission happens as long as we are not jampacked like sardines, Galvez-Tan said. However, both Food and Drug Administration (FAD) here and in the US caution against the use of HCQ for Covid-19 outside the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems.
Well, who am I to question the opinion of these medical experts? But their move is too abrupt. Experts are even debating on the distance between two passengers in public utility vehicles and promote social distancing as a protocol of preventing transmission. But here‘s some group pushing for an option, the use of medicine that is not acknowledged by no less than the FDA, a regulatory body for medicinal business and WHO, whose mandate is advocating universal healthcare, monitoring public health risks, coordinating responses to health care emergencies and promoting human health and well being. Why should we gamble?