Reckless Prescriptions: Lunatic Ideas Put By Great People Are Genius

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. João Pedro Medeiros, 21 years old, Brazilian, lives in Juiz de Fora, in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


On average, it takes decades, about 1 billion dollars, and a highly specialized workforce to produce a safe and evidence-based drug for a specific problem. Then a pandemic hits and people take all that work for granted, starting on a reckless usage of any drug promised to cure, without no evidence, a brand new disease. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the misinformation about miraculous treatments comes along, and even after a year and many clinical studies on the subject, it does not seem to be gone soon. But who is to be accounted for?

Is it the scientist’s fault? One could say that they started all this mess by pursuing ways to benefit from the giant wave of publications about COVID-19. At the beginning of the pandemic, researchers were experimenting with every already-approved drug aiming to get some result. Of many, two became famous: Ivermectin (which gained momentum in Latin America) and hydroxychloroquine. But after clinical trials, meta-analysis, and retracted articles the scientific community has already denied the efficacy of those treatments.

So is it people’s lacking scientific knowledge fault? It could be. But they should not be accounted for. Imagine that you are terrified by COVID-19 and receive a message from a friend that tells you that he just had been cured by a miraculous cocktail of drugs that his doctor prescribed. Would you not be tempted by this promise?

To knowledgeable people, if you take these drugs you are making a mistake: COVID-19 has killed millions of people, not because of its high death rate, but for having a high infection rate. Its death rate is much smaller than other infectious diseases, such as ebola. Therefore, most people recover without any problem. When you assume that your friend was cured by the medication, and not because he was not prone to the infection you are establishing a cause based on a correlation without thinking about other variables. That is a cognitive bias. And It is not fair to blame regular people, because they do not understand the complicated relations between statistics, psychology, and pharmacology. Especially in a world where misinformation can be easily spread.

Therefore, we get to those that have not started this mess but spread it: Politicians, bad-doctors, and conspiracists. Well-known world personalities, Trump and Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, advocated for not-evidence-based drugs for covid and led to widespread use of them at the beginning of the pandemic. However, even after evidence piling up against these, so-called, “precocious treatment” the damage that had been caused by these personalities remains. Now even doctors have become adopters of this fallacy.

Why do people keep using these drugs? Simply put, because they are disoriented and the institutions that they believe are lost. Until the men in suits act up and institutions trust science, the simple man is going to be roaming around misinformation. However, after a year of the pandemic, they seem to have known nothing new.

About the author

João Pedro Medeiros, 21 years old, Brazilian, lives in Juiz de Fora, in the state of Minas Gerais where he is attending his third year of Medicine at Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora. He is the local Capacity Building Director. He believes that scientific research and patient-centered care are the cornerstones of healthcare, and by this means, peoples’ lives can be changed in an efficient and significant manner.

Comments

  1. Show me where Ivermectin has been shown ineffective in ” clinical trials, meta-analysis, and retracted articles the scientific community has already denied the efficacy of those treatments”. This is simply false.

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