Special to WorldTribune, June 11, 2021
Commentary by R. Clinton Ohlers
Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, the Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization, has been served legal notice of a suit against her by the Indian Bar Association for spreading false information about the drug ivermectin.
Swaminathan is the author of more than 350 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters. A Foreign Fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, she is also a Fellow of all three of India’s science academies.
Within the WHO, the role of the science division, which she heads, is to ensure the organization “stays ahead of the curve and leverages advances in science and technology for public health and clinical care, as well as ensuring that the norms, standards and guidelines produced by WHO are scientifically excellent, relevant and timely.”
The Indian Bar Association (IBA) alleges that Dr. Swaminathan was “spreading disinformation and misguiding the people of India, in order to fulfill her agenda,” advancing her own interests, and it is seeking to prevent her from “causing further damage.”
The association further asserted that Swaminathan, in her statements against the use of ivermectin, ignored research and clinical trials from two organizations that have led the study of ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment — the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) and the British Ivermectin Recommendation Development (BIRD) — that have presented solid and abundant data showing the dramatic effectiveness of the drug.
“Dr. Soumya Swaminathan has ignored these studies/reports and has deliberately suppressed the data regarding effectiveness of the drug Ivermectin, with an intent to dissuade the people of India from using Ivermectin,” the IBA said in a statement.
By May 10, significant findings on ivermectin’s effectiveness had been available for months. Although interest in ivermectin was occurring as early as the summer of 2020, by October evidence from recent and rapidly emerging clinical trials around the world led to the FLCCC’s initial advocacy for the drug.
In December, a meta study of 26 other studies reported finding ivermectin highly effective in reducing hospitalizations and mortality.
On Feb. 20, the findings of “The BIRD Recommendation on the Use of Ivermectin for Covid-19” was released in the United Kingdom, urging immediate manufacture, importation, and distribution of the drug.
On April 22, Dr. Pierre Kory of the FLCCC and several other researchers published their own independent review of ivermectin studies, reporting it as being “effective in all phases of Covid-19” when taken orally. One study they reviewed, for example, reported a resolution of symptoms that had lasted longer than four to 12 weeks in almost 90% of patients who received it.
The IBA notice calls for a clear response from Swaminathan on a number of key points, and the association said that in the case of a failure to provide a clear response, it reserves the right to initiate prosecution under sections of the Indian Penal Code and Disaster Management Act of 2005.
As WorldTribune reported on May 26, the WHO disregarded these finding in a move many consider was designed to protect the interests of its vaccine-backing funders, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Merck, rather than the science.
The WorldTribune story went viral on social media and was posted by Gen. Michael Flynn on Telegram.
The immediate cause of the lawsuit against Swaminathan is a May 10 Twitter post, since deleted after she received the notice, in which she wrote, “[s]afety and efficacy are important when using any drug for a new indication. WHO recommends against the use of ivermectin for COVID-19 except within clinical trials.”
Of particular concern is that Swaminathan made the post soon after the Indian state of Goa’s health minister announced that every Goa resident 18 and older would be given ivermectin as prevention regardless of their COVID-19 status, as part of the state’s effort to stop the transmission of the virus. India has been hit hard by the virus since March.
Swaminathan’s tweet directly undermined these efforts.
On April 28, India’s government published new guidelines for treating asymptomatic and mild cases of COVID-19 with ivermectin. Within a little over two weeks, on May 17, Indian officials announced that daily COVID-19 cases in the country had fallen below 300,000 for the first time in 25 days.
Dr. Kory examined the data, which he says show “hospitals emptying” in Dehli. Cases “absolutely plummeted,” he noted, adding that India’s data following introduction of ivermectin closely matched the same declines that occurred in states of Mexico that distributed the drug months earlier.
It was during this period in which Dr. Swaminathan issued her now-deleted tweet urging the Indian public and health regulators against widespread use of the drug. The evidence suggests that had her advice been followed, and possibly where it was followed, many lives would have been or were unnecessarily lost.
Although recommended by the government, not all states in India participated in distributing the drug. Dr. Kory said that places in India where ivermectin is used preventatively or as early treatment, such as Goa and Uttar Pradesh, are seeing COVID-19 cases declining in contrast with states that have banned the drug.
“[In] every one of those states, the curves are now precipitously declining,” Dr. Kory said.
“But there’s a state in India called Tamil Nadu whose minister there basically effectively outlawed ivermectin and went all-in on remdesivir.” “The cases and deaths in that state are skyrocketing,” Dr. Kory stated.
According to data by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, Tamil Nadu saw 20,421 new cases and 434 deaths on June 6. By contrast, Goa recorded 403 new cases and 16 deaths and Uttar Pradesh, one of the most populous states in India with more than 200 million people, reported only 1,037 cases and 85 deaths.
Uttar Pradesh has been distributing free medical kits containing one week’s worth of medication, including ivermectin, for COVID-19 positive patients who are under home isolation.
Neither the chief minister in Tamil Nadu nor the WHO chief scientist responded to requests by the media for comment.
R. Clinton Ohlers, PhD is a historian of science and religion and a contributing editor for the FreePressMediaGroup. Previously, he held the position of Research Assistant Professor in the Humanities at the University of Hong Kong. His book, The Birth of the Conflict Between Science and Religion, is scheduled for publication in 2022. His PhD in history is from the University of Pennsylvania.