By Filipe Rafaeli
I recently had access to a Newsguard article. They wrote about the website hcqtrial.com. It is a study on the global use of hydroxychloroquine and its results. "Early treatment with hydroxychloroquine: a country-based analysis", is the title.
The document produced by Newsguard is here: "Proceed with caution. This website severely violates basic journalistic standards". It is the Newsguard warning about hqctrial.com and c19study.com.
They wrote about two websites in the same document. c19study.com, which is an index with links to all studies about hydroxychloroquine and hcqtrial.com, which is the study on countries and the use of the drug. Both are produced by the same team of scientists.
In the document about hcqtrial.com, they wrote:
The study also appeared to cherry-pick which countries to include. Brazil, for example, is omitted from the study. Yet, Brazil has the fifth highest number of COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 population in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. Also, the country’s health ministry recommended the drug as a COVID-19 treatment in May 2020, according to an article published that month by Reuters.Newsguard
That is, the basis of their argument is that without Brazil, the study does "cherry-picking".
"Cherry-picking" a term that means to select small examples to build a thesis.
And that if the minister of health recommended the use, therefore, Brazil has a widespread use of hydroxichloroquine.
Today, September 17, 2020, we have 634 deaths per million in Brazil, according to the Worldometers website.
And so, without Brazil included, the whole thesis of the article falls. Because, after all, for them, in Brazil there is a massive use of drugs and yet there are many deaths.
Newsguard took for granted that there is a wide use of hydroxychloroquine in Brazil just because the Minister of Health made a protocol. Between this and actually having a use, there is a big difference. There are no statistics of doctors' adherence to drug use in early cases of COCID-19.
Here I explain the facts and why:
Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, of the far right and with a history of being anti-scientific, fired Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta, a doctor, because he did not want to make a protocol for the use of hydroxichloroquine. This was in the middle of April, in the midst of a great increase in deaths. See the graph.
Soon after he appointed Nelson Teich, another doctor, to the position of Minister of Health. He also did not want to make a protocol for the use of hydroxychloroquine. He was also fired. That was in the middle of May.
In the sequence, we were four months without a minister of health. Brazil was the only country in the world without a health minister during the pandemic. Soon an interim minister took over. A general of the armed forces. He is neither a doctor nor a scientist. He knows something about ammunition. He was Commander of the Central Munitions Depot of the Brazilian Army.
This military minister made a protocol for the medicine. Hardly anyone takes him seriously. Then the general said that "it is neither protocol nor therapeutic guideline".
The largest television network in the country, Globo, only publishes negative articles about hydroxychloroquine. The Globo, also, has a much greater communication power than any communication group of any democracy in the world. It has already been portrayed in the documentary "Far Beyond Citizen Kane", on English TV.
Natalia Pasternak, who became a star and famous, in interviews on all TV channels during the pandemic, has only two objectives: the first is to say that hydroxychloroquine doesn't work, and the second is to say that glyphosate is good. Glyphosate, from Monsanto, causes cancer.
Atila Iamarino, a scientific disseminator who is surfing the pandemic and making catastrophic predictions of at least one million dead in Brazil, has millions of views in his videos and makes humor out of the drug. Atila has even become a propaganda boy. He distributes fake news and affirms that "Brazil is one of the few countries that still discusses chloroquine".
Believe me. His propaganda was "against fake news".
Humor programs make jokes with the drug. The Porta dos Fundos, with millions of followers has already made satirical pictures about the drug. Besides that, humorists make video with Bolsonaro dancing and singing songs about the drug.
Brazilian scientists do studies to explain that doctors who prescribe hydroxychloroquine are irrational.
Several associations of doctors write against the drug, like this one.
The Bolsonaro himself, intellectually limited, when trying to defend, said: "There is no proof that it has no effective proof. Neither that it does not have, nor that it does have".
No. That is not some translation error. No one has yet understood what he tried to say even in Portuguese.
I explained these facts to the Newsguard reporter. He stated that he does not wish to make corrections. See the printout of the e-mail.
Gregory believing that there is widespread use of the drug in Brazil, only by the minister to recommend, is an amateur job. He was lazy to research on the Internet. Any teenager would find it easy.
I also sent it to his superior, Eric Effron, who did not reply.
A doctor to prescribe hydroxychloroquine for his patients needs to ignore the WHO, all the television networks, the main newspapers, the medical associations, the main universities in Brazil, the most respected hospitals, believe in a General who understands Weapons and then, finally, read the studies that attest to the effectiveness of the drug. Few have done this.
In Brazil we have almost 5 million cases. I have five personal friends that already had been infected. For none of them hydroxychloroquine has been recommended. Luckily, they are new. They have not died.
The scientific work on hcqtrail.com is excellent and rigorous. I have not yet read well-founded criticism that could bring down the whole study. "Unfortunately they don't appear to be interested in the truth," one of the scientists in the study told me about Newsguard.
The study shows that countries that use it on a large scale have less death.
And the study won't be overturned by amateurs speaking lies, and posing as truth bearers, and censoring, like Gregory and Efron.
The newsguard defines itself as protectors of truth. "The Internet Trust Tool", they claim.
They have a section on their website. "Why Should You Trust Us?" There they explain: "Because we have an ethics policy".
No. They do not. Nor the intelligence they think they have.
John and Eric thought they had a letter up their sleeve: Brazil. And with it they would take down the whole study.
They actually tried to shape reality to fit the ready theory they had in their heads.
They couldn't. They called for censorship. The power that some irresponsible delegated to these amateurs.
Update on September 19.
I contacted Gregory again, on twitter, for him to correct an article where he denounced hcqtrial.com of having false information.
This was the answer. Pinochet style.
Does Newsguard have ethics and search for truth?
Filipe Rafaeli. My twitter is here. https://twitter.com/filipe_rafaeli