News & Politics

From 'Shortage' to Glut: Are We Making More Ventilators than COVID Patients Need?

Image by Simon Orlob from Pixabay

Sometimes the corporate media completely owns themselves in an effort to dunk on President Trump. Such is the case with ventilators. In the latter half of March and early April, all you heard on chyrons and from talking heads was that patients in the United States were not going to have access to the ventilators needed to treat severe cases of COVID-19. The government had been warned and did not increase strategic supplies. Orange Man Bad was the narrative of course. Even presumptive Democrat nominee Joe Biden got into the debate criticizing the president for not invoking the Defense Production Act (DPA) in February to increase supply.

Governor Cuomo of New York insisted he needed 40,000 ventilators to effectively manage the outbreak in New York. Even Dr. Fauci said the governor would need 30,000. The actual need was about 1/8th of Cuomo’s original ask. This was after the president was pilloried all over the media for weeks for questioning Cuomo and not producing thousands of ventilators fast enough. President Trump eventually invoked the DPA on March 20 and ordered U.S. automakers to join the project to make 100,000 ventilators by early summer.

Now the Associated Press is saying that by becoming the “King of Ventilators” the president may have created a glut. You see, he simply can’t be accused of having done anything right in this pandemic. From the article:

But over the past month, demand for ventilators has decreased even as the U.S. death toll from the novel coronavirus has surged past 75,000. After observing unusually high death rates for coronavirus victims who were put on ventilators, many doctors are using them only as a last resort.

That’s raising the unexpected prospect that the United States could soon be awash in surplus ventilators, so much so the White House is now planning to ship thousands overseas to help boost the virus response of other nations.

If you were following health and science reports, this turn of events is hardly surprising. Medical professionals have been noting since at least mid-March that the most severe cases of COVID-19 may have a completely different underlying cause. But you never heard the corporate media report this broadly. It was too much fun to beat up on the President for his response. And as it turns out, the proposed problem has treatment protocols. So, you may not have been so willing to stay locked in your house and let the economy crash.

By the time this fight between the president and the press was playing out in the United States, medical professionals were questioning the use of ventilators. The Lancet published an article on March 16, 2020 recommending that all COVID-19 patients be evaluated for hyperinflammation.

Accumulating evidence suggests that a subgroup of patients with severe COVID-19 might have a cytokine storm syndrome. We recommend identification and treatment of hyperinflammation using existing, approved therapies with proven safety profiles to address the immediate need to reduce the rising mortality.

Physicians from Italy started to notice that the respiratory distress experienced in severe COVID-19 was atypical and published a paper on March 30, 2020. The same day Dr. Cameron Kyle-Sidell took to YouTube to tell the world that the clinical presentation of COVID-19 in New York City was not typical of a viral pneumonia at all. He warned that hospitals were preparing to treat Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and that was not the clinical picture he was seeing. At minimum, he said, the way ventilators were being used could actually be damaging the lung tissue of COVID-19 patients and needed to be modified.

Stat News reported that other doctors were beginning to question ventilator use as early as April 8, 2020. Some clinicians were starting to suspect that severe COVID-19 was a problem with the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood rather than a problem with the lungs or the patient’s physical ability to breathe. On April 28, 2020, Dr. Thomas Yadegar put teeth on some of these recommendations when he shared his team’s success in treating COVID-19 patients for cytokine storm at Cedars-Sinai in an interview with Glenn Beck. He noted that the team began to predict patients with a certain clinical profile would require ventilation in six to twelve hours if left untreated.

In addition to talking about treating these patients using existing protocols and therapeutics based on their clinical profile, the diagnosis of cytokine storm can explain the myriad of symptoms individual patients with COVID-19 exhibit. As an overstimulation of the immune system, it behaves almost like an autoimmune disorder and attacks the body’s own systems. It can cause the atypical clots, heart and other organ damage that is being reported. The protocol developed by the Cedars-Sinai team prevented the need for ventilation in all cases it was implemented at the time of the interview.

It has been reported that 80% of patients with COVID-19 put on a ventilator do not survive. This suggests that a significant subset may be suffering from something that is likely not typical ARDS caused by viral pneumonia. Had a curious corporate media reporter bothered to do any research into the topic, the information is not hard to find. And Dr. Anthony Fauci should have been questioned about them and what the NIH was doing to investigate this information. On May 5, in an interview with Jake Tapper, Dr. Fauci said:

“We’re seeing things that weren’t quite noticed in the big chaos of the explosion of cases, first in China, then Europe, and now in the United States,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “Now we’re starting to see things that on the one hand are puzzling but on the other hand are enlightening.”

Fauci said autopsies of the lungs of those who have died from the virus, in particular are revealing “things we didn’t expect” that are both “fascinating and informative.”

“We have a lot to learn,” Fauci told Tapper. “It’s opening up the door, I believe, to some interventions that might be helpful.”

Some doctors were puzzled and puzzled it out much earlier. Doctors in China wrote a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association on March 13, 2020 noting some success with methlyprednisone, an immunosuppressant and anti-inflammatory.  The doctors mentioned above built on that information and found answers in time to save some patients.

As of today, the NIH panel does not recommend any specific treatment or evaluation for cytokine storm. It still seems to focus on treatments for respiratory distress such as mechanical ventilation, positioning the patient on their stomach and pulmonary vasodilators that increase the blood flow to the lung tissue. This is strange as it is a known syndrome, with a diagnostic profile and available treatment regimens as noted in the Lancet article in mid-March. It has also been observed in influenza, SARS and MERS. This headline appeared in New Scientist in 2003:

The maddening problem of SARS: Immune systems in overdrive
The SARS virus didn’t kill its victims directly – they died because their immune systems went into overdrive. Researchers are now scrambling to find ways to damp down such a response before the next killer disease emerges, reports Debora MacKenzie

The global public health apparatus knew this 17 years ago. How is it even possible this was not the first suspect in severe COVID-19 disease and why were we flat-footed on a real response?

So now the country and maybe the world will have an overabundance of ventilators. However, it is difficult to fault the President. The media berated him into it, his health expert agreed with Governor Cuomo, and he was given an astounding number needed as the pandemic was expected to spread nationwide based on the models at the time. The same media also ignored a wealth of information being provided about the actual clinical presentation of the virus from clinicians on the frontline, preferring to quote Dr. Fauci, who was not treating patients.

It is now being widely reported that ventilators don’t work as if it can possibly be construed as some kind of ‘gotcha’ against President Trump. Rather, this should be a ‘gotcha’ for the media and the global health experts. They ignored well documented history related to SARS and feedback from doctors treating patients who were telling them history was repeating itself. As far as I am concerned, the current death toll can be lain at their feet.

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