Source: LeMonde France
The controversial infectious disease specialist was interviewed Wednesday by the National Assembly’s commission of inquiry into the coronavirus.
After the masks, which were at the center of the first week of the National Assembly’s commission of inquiry into the coronavirus, hydroxychloroquine and screening tests were at the heart of the hearing for almost three hours, Wednesday June 24, from Professor Didier Raoult.
“All the people who will tell you that [the situation] is simple are oblivious or ignorant,” said the scientist, who readily introduces himself as “anti-system” , in his opening statement.
On the question of screening tests
Didier Raoult sharply criticized the “completely archaic” organization of Covid-19 screening tests in France, which, according to him, prevented them from being used more widely.
The molecular diagnostic test for Covid-19 was implemented on January 17 by the Institut Pasteur, national reference center (CNR) for respiratory viruses with the Hospices Civils de Lyon. But it then took a long time to be deployed across the country, the deputies who were members of the committee said several times.
“The idea that we could not do the tests was not true” , judged Didier Raoult, who heads the IHU – Méditerranée Infection, in Marseille, for whom centralization at the level of the CNR made lose a lot of time and was not necessary. This system of “small CNR” leads their officials to “consider that the disease is their territory” , like “badgers in their burrow that bite when approached” , he lambasted.
“I do not agree with the decision not to generalize the tests,” he also said, saying that “one cannot study” a new disease “if one does not test “ .
On the question of hydroxychloroquine
On February 25, Professor Raoult proclaimed that hydroxychloroquine is “probably the cheapest and easiest treatment” against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. An optimism far from being shared by health authorities and a large majority of scientists, who emphasize that this molecule has not been proven to be effective in the treatment of Covid-19 and warn against its undesirable effects.
On Wednesday, Didier Raoult described the debates around this molecule as “great madness” . According to him, it is no longer a question of “science”.
At the same time, it renewed the assertion that certain detractors of hydroxychloroquine are financially linked to the Gilead laboratory, manufacturer of remdesivir, another molecule whose effectiveness is tested in the treatment of Covid-19.
Faced with requests for clarification from deputies, the microbiologist notably referred them to the consultation of the Transparency Health database, which lists the links of interest between companies and players in the health sector. Claiming to have observed an “obsession with wanting to treat people with remdesivir” , he said he saw this as a result of the “influence” strategy of this laboratory, in the service of a “pure stock market game” .
Didier Raoult also pilloried the “whimsical American nickel-plated feet” study published in The Lancet which led to the suspension of the use of this treatment in France. On June 4, the world-renowned medical journal announced the withdrawal of the study published on May 22 in its columns, which suggested that hydroxychloroquine, associated or not with an antibiotic like azithromycin, increased mortality and arrhythmias in patients hospitalized for Covid-19.
The Marseille researcher also regretted that, in this health crisis, “medical decisions” were “preempted by the political” , reference to the prohibition of prescription of hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of Covid-19 for doctors of city, ban then extended on May 27 to the hospital, except in the context of clinical trials.
On the question of wearing a mask and confinement
On these two themes, the scientist kicked in touch, referring these decisions to politicians. “It was not for us [doctors] to think” about these subjects, he simply replied. “The decisions to contain and wear a mask are not based on established, clear and demonstrable scientific data,” he added, adding that this is a question of “political management on which I am concerned. am forbidden to have an opinion “.
Didier Raoult also considered that it was the responsibility of the State to organize surveillance of the various possible epidemics throughout the territory. “In each defense zone, there needs to be a center capable of helping to manage an infectious disease crisis, including if the crisis turns out to be artificial. It is part of a sovereign domain of the State, “ he said.
In the future, according to him, it will be necessary to be very attentive to “the quality of the people who constitute the Praetorian Guard” around the ministers of health so that they “are not overwhelmed with disturbing information” . If these people “don’t have the nerves or the skills, that’s a real problem,” he added. Faced with requests for clarification from deputies, Professor Raoult said that he was targeting the management of the National Medicines Safety Agency as well as the High Health Authority.