Checking the ‘facts’ in Mara Williams’ opinion piece | Guest column

Submitted by J. Michael Edwards, MD, DDS, FACS

As a physician of long-standing, I am greatly concerned by the misinformation and baseless recommendations made by the author of this opinion piece published in your Journal of the San Juans. The misinformation and baseless recommendations pose a great threat to the health and well being of members of our community who can not or refuse to seek credible health professional guidance before taking the recommended action(s).

Your more recent disclaimer: “It bears repeating that all personal medical decisions should be made with your primary care physician and not based on an opinion article,” is not enough as this week’s “Green Edition” does not contain this admonition. As such the opinion piece in question should be retracted and an explanation for doing so offered to your readers.

A number of examples, among many others, are as follows:

1) [The opinion author said:] “Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) occurs in 30 percent of those who contract the virus.”

When in fact, according to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, “Approximately 80% of infections are not severe and some may be asymptomatic.” And, “For hospitalized patients with pneumonia, limited studies suggest the disease course (Wuhan experience and others): ARDS develops in 17–29%.”

Note that ARDS developments in 17-29% of patients who are hospitalized and have pneumonia and are contained in the 20% residual (vs 80% not severe or asymptomatic).

2) [The opinion author said:] “The ACE Inhibitors (like Lisinopril) allow the virus to move into the lungs.”

When in fact, according to the American College of Cardiology, “In the HFSA/ACC/AHA statement, experts stress there is no clinical data showing that ACE inhibitors or ARBs have an effect—good or bad—on COVID-19 in people, or in patients with COVID-19 and heart disease.” And, “Therefore, the experts recommend that patients who have been taking these medicines to treat heart failure, high blood pressure, or ischemic heart disease (a condition like coronary artery disease in which blood flow is limited to the heart), continue to do so.”

We do not want anyone with high blood pressure to unilaterally stop taking their lisinopril and as a result, suffer a heart attack or a stroke.

3) [The opinion author said:] “Fortunately, the FDA has approved Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) and Azithromycinfor use with COVID-19. It has been shown to be 100 percent effective.”

Simply stated no drugs, singularly or in combination, are 100% effective.

Again please remove this dangerous opinion piece forthwith with an explanation for doing the same.

Edwards is a former commissioner of the San Juan County Public Hospital District No. 1 and served from 2005-2019.