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Landmark Court Battle for COVID-19 Treatment

By Justus R. Hope, MD


The legal war for access to the life-saving drug Ivermectin is being waged both in the United States and South Africa. The US battle is led by Buffalo, New York attorney Ralph C. Lorigo while Bongani Luthuli fights in Johannesburg. Mr. Lorigo made national news when he won a court order two months ago forcing Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital to administer the Ivermectin that saved Judith Smentkiewicz’s life from COVID-19. Within 48 hours of her first Ivermectin dose, she was taken off the ventilator and able to breathe on her own.


Attorney Lorigo and his associate, Jon F. Minear, won another similar Ivermectin court injunction for patient Glenna Dickenson later in January. Mr. Lorigo has led the charge for patient access to Ivermectin in the US. He now corresponds with scores of other patients worldwide and provides legal and medical resources to access the treatment.


In an interview with the Heartland Institute, Mr. Lorigo recounted his experience with Judith Smentkiewicz’s family. 


“They were very positive about Dr. Pierre Kory and his group. They gave me a video clip of Dr. Kory in front of the US Senate in December of 2020. It’s such a passionate plea. I did so much research. I’ve got so much of the paperwork. I’ve expanded our (legal) research substantially since then because we’ve gotten calls from all over the country, in fact, all over the world about this situation. We handled a second lady in a neighboring county in Rochester, New York. We were able to get a second court order to help her.”


After witnessing firsthand the results of these two cases and scores of others he has helped indirectly, Mr. Lorigo has become a steadfast supporter of Ivermectin treatment for COVID. He is available for consultation and assistance at  Mr. Lorigo is clear, “People need to know there is an alternative. They need to know Ivermectin is potentially a miraculous drug for a lot of people. We need to get the word out on Ivermectin because people are dying every day.”


Tragically, Dr. Kory’s video was taken down by YouTube, and most patients remain in the dark regarding Ivermectin. This censorship has been chronicled in the book Surviving Cancer, COVID-19 and Disease: The Repurposed Drug Revolution, in a feature story, “YouTube Censors the Senate and Bans Dr. Pierre Kory.”


Meanwhile, in South Africa, SAHPRA, the African equivalent of the US FDA, has opposed access to Ivermectin. The story of Herman van de Westhuizen was published March 5, 2021 in the Desert Review, “Dad dies while awaiting ivermectin approval.” 


Herman contracted COVID-19 and his family requested Ivermectin. Dr. Naseeba Kathrada wrote the prescription and filed the Section 21 compassionate use application. Unfortunately, SAHPRA delayed the application’s approval, and Mr. van de Westhuizen died from the virus two weeks later.


His daughter, Tanya Johnson, joined in the lawsuit against SAHPRA and the Minister of Health. Attorney Luthuli says the Section 21 process is “frustrating and completely unworkable.” Although both sides had filed legal paperwork for a hearing set for the end of the month, a settlement was reached this week. 


Bongani Luthuli announced earlier this week that SAHPRA’s lawyers had agreed to all their requests. “Due to the pressure of the ACDP and others, they’ve conceded the usage and rollout of Ivermectin. They will be registering the product Wednesday (March 17, 2021).”


“It is a major breakthrough for the people of South Africa because we’ve been very adamant that Ivermectin can assist in this pandemic. This is now a settlement as opposed to a directive from the court.”


However, as with all legal proceedings, the devil proved to be in the details. The settlement means the Ivermectin is now registered in South Africa, and it can be produced by in-country compounding and using only in-country ingredients.  The problem is that the importation of any pills or ingredients involved in the compounding would still require Section 21 approval.


Practically speaking, it would be nearly impossible to meet the South African Ivermectin demand without gaining an additional waiver from the Minister of Health to import these key ingredients.


Meanwhile, around the world, the pandemic rages out of control despite aggressive vaccine rollouts. Hungary, despite mass vaccination, has seen cases up almost ten-fold since last month. Europe is experiencing a third wave despite millions having been vaccinated, while troubling signs are cropping up in the United States. Forbes staff writer Nicolas Reimann published an article on March 18, 2021 in which he noted that the states with the highest vaccination rates were starting to spike in case counts.


He cited an Axios analysis that found Michigan leading the way in new cases with a 7-day rolling average spike of 53%. Since Axios performed the analysis, the trend has continued.  Compared to February 21, Michigan’s cases have risen on average from 1030 per day to 4122 per day – a  quadrupling.


State health officials blame this increase on contagious new variants spreading within Michigan. Other states with high vaccination rates include West Virginia, Maine, and Montana, and they are dealing with similar spikes. US health officials have conceded that the UK variant could become the dominant strain in our country by the end of the month. It is 56% more contagious and up to twice as lethal than the original strain.


The variants are a significant problem for many reasons, but the most compelling is that they are more resistant to our vaccines. According to an article published March 9, 2021, in WebMD by Ralph Ellis, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not work as well against the South African variant (B.1.351), although they still appear effective against the UK variant (B.1.1.7). 


Citing a study  published in Nature, he reported that the percentage of neutralizing antibodies for the South African variant was 12.4 fold lower for the Moderna vaccine than against the original and 10.3 fold lower for the Pfizer vaccine. A 12.4 fold reduction equates to a 92% reduction in effectiveness, while a 10.3 fold reduction equates to a 90.3% lowering. 


In another study published March 16, 2021, in the New England Journal of Medicine, the AstraZeneca vaccine was evaluated against the South African variant and found to be only 10.4% effective.  William Haseltine, a contributor to Forbes, wrote, “This is cause for grave concern as the South African variant shares similar mutations to the other variants.” 


Dr. Peter McCullough was asked his thoughts on this serious issue.


Dr. Peter McCullough, distinguished epidemiologist and Vice-Chair of Internal Medicine at Baylor in Dallas, is well-known in the pandemic, largely from his testimony as a lead witness from the first Senate Hearings delivered in November of 2020 during which he advocated early outpatient treatment, including the triple therapy of a cocktail consisting of an antiviral, an antibiotic, and Zinc.


He sounded the alarm during this crucial hearing, predicting that the pandemic would soon overwhelm hospital capacity. Dr. Harvey Risch, the distinguished Yale epidemiologist, and researcher cited over 200 studies attesting to HCQ’s effectiveness in outpatient COVID-19 treatment. Dr. George Fareed, former Harvard Professor, and NIH virologist, testified to his experience in treating many hundreds of patients in California’s Imperial Valley (along with his associate Dr. Brian Tyson) with the triple therapy of HCQ, Zinc, and Azithromycin without a single death. (As of this writing, the two physicians have jointly treated some 5,000 COVID-19 cases with only two deaths.) 


Dr. McCullough recently expanded on his Senate testimony during an interview on the Covexit forum.


“Coming into that Senate testimony, I predicted that we were going to overflow our hospitals – if we didn’t have early treatment. To overflow US hospitals, we would have to have 135,000 patients in the hospital with COVID. We crested at 128,000 in the United States, and then the rates started to plummet. We had data come in…that as a result of that testimony and then followed up by the second testimony on December 8 by Dr. Kory and others, we think there was a big surge of early treatment in the United States. The AAPS estimates that 500,000 people actually received early treatment. And so that probably changed the face of the pandemic. We started to see mortality, new cases, and hospitalizations go down at the same time.”


When asked about today’s rising cases and the problem of new variants, Dr. McCullough offered his thoughts: “There was a mindset in the National Institutes of Health that it (the solution) was going to be vaccination against the spike protein and nothing else…The regulatory agency’s position is single drug – one by one – and they have not been able to think in a multidrug environment…We have to be adept from a public health perspective in following the science…If our contagion control methods look like they’ve backfired, and are ineffective, we need to change them. If we are seeing a mortality signal with a vaccine, and we really see this, we don’t want to whitewash that. We want to have independent reviews.” 


One independent review has already been accomplished. Dr. Tess Lawrie is the director of the Evidence-Based Medicine Consultancy in Bath, England. She is routinely called upon by the British National Health Service and the World Health Organization to perform comprehensive and independent meta-analyses on medical evidence. Her results inform decisions in making international guidelines on clinical practice.


Dr. Lawrie performed such a comprehensive analysis on the medical evidence with Ivermectin.  Dr. Lawrie concluded, “Between Christmas and new year, I independently reviewed 27 studies presented by the FLCCC as evidence of Ivermectin effectiveness. The resulting evidence is consistent and unequivocal: Ivermectin works well both in preventing COVID infections and in preventing deaths at the same doses used to treat lice and other parasitic infections. I am very pleased to inform you that this evidence solidly substantiates the FLCCC’s recommendation that Ivermectin should be adopted globally and systematically for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Because I know there is a lot of fake news going about, I would like to assure you that you can trust the integrity of my report because I am an experienced independent medical research consultant whose work is routinely used to underpin international clinical practice guidelines. In addition, I have no conflict of interest and have received no funding for this report.”


Dr. Marc Wathelet, a Harvard-trained virologist, also reviewed the current failing efforts to contain the pandemic. He summed up the problem and his solution“The selective pressure of the antibodies (from vaccines) will select viruses that are able to escape the antibodies – so that’s a danger – and we already see that happening with the different mutants. So a great advantage of Ivermectin over vaccination is the fact the virus cannot evolve resistance to it.” 


The bottom line is scientific humility, something that is required in public health leadership. Dr. Peter McCullough warns that, “We have to have a lot of humility.” When we realize that variant strains are emerging that overcome our mass vaccination policy, the answer is not more  booster shots and more lockdowns. When what we are doing is not working, we must have the scientific humility to get another independent scientific opinion and change our approach.


The answer does not have to be abandoning vaccination; it can be simply adding sequential drugs and nutraceuticals as Dr. George Fareed and Dr. Peter McCullough have published extensively here .


Dr. Fareed has further refined his combination of sequential drugs and nutraceuticals to include both antivirals, HCQ and Ivermectin as they complement each other. He notes that they can work synergistically as they have different mechanisms of action. Dr. Fareed has also added other medications including steroids, anticoagulants, colchicine, and fluvoxamine based upon newer scientific studies.


Another virologist, Dr. Wathelet, provided further input. He had researched the first SARS virus extensively more than a decade before the pandemic began. He is one of the few true experts on the SARS and coronaviruses. He warned the Belgium government as early as February of 2020 about the consequences of the current pandemic. And he was correct. Dr. Wathelet now proposes that Ivermectin be given to all those infected and all their contacts. He notes it would crush the pandemic in a matter of weeks. “Just a few weeks is all it would take. What are we waiting for?” 


Dr. Pierre Kory observes that Bangladesh has effectively already done this. They have been using Ivermectin since November and giving it to all those infected and all their contacts: “They were predicted to have two million deaths based upon the size and density of their population. They were thought to be decimated. They adopted Ivermectin very early on. There are newspaper reports that every household takes Ivermectin.” 


In a country of 160 million people, they now have only 8,000 deaths. In our country of twice that population, we now have 547,000 deaths, more than 68 times as many. Dr. Kory maintains that no more studies are required to make the decision to use Ivermectin.  


“The data is unassailable when you see the mountains, the totality and the breadth of the data. It’s really hard to take (the failure of our regulators to use Ivermectin to save lives).”


Dr. Tess Lawrie wrote an Open Letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on January 9, 2021, pleading for him to implement Ivermectin,  “But most of all you can trust me because I am a medical doctor first and foremost with a moral duty to help people, to do no harm and to save lives. Please may we start saving lives now.”  


She has received no reply to date. 


Until our regulatory agencies decide to implement Ivermectin, or even approve its use, most of us are left with no recourse except for attorneys like Ralph Lorigo and Bongani Luthuli to fight for our health care rights.


We will be left with those outspoken experts like Dr. Peter McCullough, Dr. George Fareed, Dr. Pierre Kory, Dr. Tess Lawrie, and Dr. Marc Wathelet to enlighten our leaders.  We are counting on you, the reader, to insist our leaders listen to them – and change our current health policies.


Write your Senators or Congressmen. Notify your President or Prime Minister. Sign the petition below. In the words of Dr. Tess Lawrie – Please may we start saving lives now?


Please sign our petition today: “Provide Access and Information on Ivermectin; Stop the COVID-19 Deaths Now.”



Dr. Justus R. Hope, writer’s pseudonym, graduated summa cum laude from Wabash College where he was named a Lilly Scholar. He attended Baylor College of Medicine where he was awarded the M.D. degree. He completed a residency in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at The University of California Irvine Medical Center. He is board-certified and has taught at The University of California Davis Medical Center in the departments of Family Practice and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. He has practiced medicine for over 35 years and maintains a private practice in Northern California.