Federal Doctor Says He Was Removed For Resisting Unproven Coronavirus

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  • #1
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This thread meets the GD guidelines for discussing medical policy where politics are concerned, I know, I made that policy.

How can we expect to find cures/vaccines when the doctors capable of doing it are removed?

A high-ranking federal doctor focused on vaccine development says he was removed from his post because of his "insistence" that the government spend funds on "safe and scientifically vetted solutions" to address the Coronavirus crisis and not on "drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit."

https://www.npr.org/sections/corona...doyg0CIEsrGXjDNL-yey80Yo-VR44Kdrui64MHLM9wnIM
 
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  • #2
hutchphd
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What are we allowed to discuss...how big is the elephant in the room?
 
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  • #3
Evo
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What are we allowed to discuss...how big is the elephant in the room?
We can discuss allowing critical valid medical work to continue without government interference. But we will not allow discussions of politics, who, etc... We will stay focused on the medicine. No mud slinging.

I do not believe that any politician with no medical background should be allowed to control medicine or give medical advice to the public. "THAT" we can talk about. But we won't point fingers, this isn't politics, it's about the medicine.
 
  • #4
hutchphd
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But it is an elephant !...(Your call).
 
  • #5
Evo
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But it is an elephant !...(Your call).
We only made it an elephant, we took an ant and mistakenly made it into an elephant. Our fault. Good intentions gone wrong. We didn't want political mudslinging, we had no intention of allowing important issues to be disallowed. I cannot imagine what could be more important right now.
 
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  • #6
BillTre
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But it is an elephant !...(Your call).

Your use of an elephant instead of something else, say a donkey, further provokes thoughts of politics! :wink:
 
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  • #7
hmmm27
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Am i missing something ? The article can simply be boiled down to "Worker criticizes boss's stupid comment, gets canned".
 
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  • #8
BillTre
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I do not believe that any politician with no medical background should be allowed to control medicine or give medical advice to the public.
Its difficult to think of much else to say without going into specifics which related to political people and their intentions.
 
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  • #9
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Am i missing something ? The article can simply be boiled down to "Worker criticizes boss's stupid comment, gets canned".
Yes, you're missing what the doctor was working on and what he was resisting.
 
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  • #10
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Its difficult to think of much else to say without going into specifics which related to political people and their intentions.
I know its hard, but due to high level of reactions of, well, I can't say, due to the high level of reactions, we have to keep it as much about the science without naming names as silly as that is.
 
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  • #11
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I can't stand it when someone in charge does something like that -- especially when lives are in the balance -- and this doc is about to find the vaccine? -- what the heck? We need the freaking vaccine. People are dying way before their time.
 
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  • #12
BillTre
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Well, it just another example of the extremely poor management of this whole mess by those who do the administrating nationally in this country, reagrdless of its consequences for the health and safety of its citizens.
 
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  • #13
hmmm27
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North of the 49th, our peerless feeder - after dedicating $120billion to "fight the coronavirus" has pumped a whole $20mil into vaccine research. Woohoo. That buys a decent lab for what, a month ? a week ?
 
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  • #14
hutchphd
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Am i missing something ? The article can simply be boiled down to "Worker criticizes boss's stupid comment, gets canned".

We can say that. but apparently we cannot say, in this forum, "Worker criticizes stupid boss's comment, gets canned".
 
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  • #15
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North of the 49th, our peerless feeder - after dedicating $120billion to "fight the coronavirus" has pumped a whole $20mil into vaccine research. Woohoo. That buys a decent lab for what, a month ? a week ?
Although we would certainly like a vaccine to be available in less than a month, that mil number, as you seem to be strongly suggesting, doesn't even come close -- we probably should replace that 'm' with a 'b'.
 
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  • #16
hmmm27
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Although we would certainly like a vaccine to be available in less than a month, that mil number, as you seem to be strongly suggesting, doesn't even come close -- we probably should replace that 'm' with a 'b'.

I don't think there's anybody that doesn't realize that it takes time, either ; so what's the political beef against research ? We (well, not me personally) have managed to knock out most of history's heavyweights.
 
  • #17
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This will be very difficult to focus on the science, because the document that started this is a statement from a bunch of lawyers. At best this is one-side of the story, but it is not the same as a scientific paper.

There is also one very odd thing about this - that Doctor X (can I call him that?) still has a job with HHS. He is a deputy assistant secretary, which means he is a political appointee (there are a handful who are career, but I did not find this listed as such on the Federal Register) so there is no reason he could not simply be replaced. The current administration has historically not held back on replacing people they would like replaced.

Even odder, Dr. X began his appointment in 2016, which means he was appointed by the previous administration. It is rare, but not unheard of, for political appointees to stay on after a Change of Administration.

And, while not exactly relevant, there is one more odd thing. The particular deputy assistant secretary position Dr. X held appears not to require Senate confirmation. There are only about a dozen of these positions around (there are supposed to be zero).
 
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  • #18
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I don't think there's anybody that doesn't realize that it takes time, either ; so what's the political beef against research ? We (well, not me personally) have managed to knock out most of history's heavyweights.
I was trying to agree with a point that you made -- a few million dollars is not enough -- we should allocate and spend a few billion until we have a fix.
 
  • #19
phinds
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I do not believe that any politician with no medical background should be allowed to control medicine or give medical advice to the public. "THAT" we can talk about.
Evo, If all politicians agreed with you the topic would not have come up but since at least one politician, and probably more, disagrees with you, I don't see how we can have "THAT" conversation without bringing in politics.
But we won't point fingers, this isn't politics, it's about the medicine.
But it IS about politics

I wish it were otherwise but I think this thread is doomed (on this forum).
 
  • #20
atyy
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A Creator of the Ebola Vaccine Has Hope for Slowing Covid-19
Gary Kobinger says a vaccine targeting groups like the elderly could be ready in less than a year, and control measures are slowing the disease's spread.
https://www.wired.com/story/creator-ebola-vaccine-hope-slowing-covid-19/
"You have to be very careful about creating false hope with therapies. On one hand, if you don’t have a randomized trial, it’s hard to make any claim about their effectiveness. At the same time, it’s important to listen to health care workers who are using those drugs on the front lines. They have a very good sense of what may be worth pursuing and not pursuing in trials, even if they are not using it in a randomized trial. So with drugs like chloroquine and azithromycin that are already approved, let’s put them in the clinic as soon as possible, and at same time design the best clinical study you can." [Bolding by me]

Antimalarials widely used against COVID-19 heighten risk of cardiac arrest. How can doctors minimize the danger?
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/202...-heighten-risk-cardiac-arrest-how-can-doctors
"Evidence of potential harm from these drugs is beginning to trickle out. A clinical trial in Brazil that gave chloroquine and azithromycin to 81 people hospitalized for COVID-19 was halted after investigators found more deaths in the group getting the higher of two doses, according to a preprint the team published on 16 April on medRxiv. Electrocardiography (EKG) readouts indicating increased arrhythmia risk were also more common in the high-dose group. Researchers conducting the trial received death threats on social media, and conservative media outlets accused them of giving patients excessively high doses to purposely smear the drug.
An analysis of data from 368 U.S. veterans treated for COVID-19, posted in a preprint today, found the risk of death from any cause was greater for those who received hydroxychloroquine than for those who didn’t, even after researchers adjusted for the fact that patients with more severe disease were more likely to receive the drug. And a woman in New York died this month after her general practitioner prescribed hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for coronaviruslike symptoms, NBC News reported last week. (There’s no proof that drug-induced arrhythmia caused her death, Ackerman says, “but it smells awfully fishy.”) Now, researchers are trying pin down the rates of this side effect in COVID-19 patients and are urging diligent heart monitoring during treatment." [Bolding by me]
 
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  • #21
phinds
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AMAZING COINCIDENCE:

After making post #19, I went downstairs for breakfast and the first article I read was about how the Mayor of Philly, during the 1918 flu pandemic, left to his "health commissioner, Wilmer Krusen, a political appointee with no prior public health experience" as to whether or no to hold a massive war bond rally.

Health officials had warned vehemently that the parade should not be held. Hundreds of cases had already been diagnosed and some dealths as well. It had already become clear that this was a pandemic. but Krusen merely requested that people cover their mouth if they cough. 200,000 tightly jammed spectators watched a 2-mile long parade of boy scouts, marching bands, etc go down the main avenue.

Within days the city's hospitals were swamped and a month later 12,000 were dead.

THEN, to really smack me in the face, the second article was about today in Iran where one of the big guns in their Academy of Medical Science is a "the most trusted adviser"of the head ayatollah of the country and this guy promotes widely debunked alternative medicine a cures for the virus. This Academy of Medical Science requires pharmacists in Iran to study homeopath for a year before getting their license because the politicians don't trust Western medicine.

So, @Evo, how do you have any kind of complete discussion about things like the above and the current situation we are discussing, without any comment on the politicians involved?

Don't get me wrong. I agree w/ your intent but I think you are being naive about the necessary political side of the discussion.
 
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  • #22
hmmm27
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I was trying to agree with a point that you made -- a few million dollars is not enough -- we should allocate and spend a few billion until we have a fix.
Yes, I was agreeing with your agreeing :cool:
 
  • #23
phinds
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Yes, I was agreeing with your agreeing :cool:
Hey guys, get a room. :oldlaugh:
 
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  • #24
hmmm27
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Hey guys, get a room. :oldlaugh:

Room service menus are bad enough even without restrictions in place. On that note, it's going to be interesting(/horrifying) to see the birth stats in 7-8 months.
 
  • #25
russ_watters
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I do not believe that any politician with no medical background should be allowed to control medicine or give medical advice to the public. "THAT" we can talk about.
I know we're in the midst of a crisis, but that would not be practical/possible, and isn't a feature of high level leaders/managers in any context I can think of. High level managers by nature must make decisions on issues they know little or nothing about, because it is impossible to have the expertise/experience of the hundreds or millions of people working for them.

Sure, it would be nice if high level politicians during a health crisis had appropriate medical/scientific backgrounds. It would also be nice if during an economic crisis they had an applicable economics/business background. And when there's judges to appoint, a legal background. And when there's infrastructure decisions to make, an engineering/construction background. Etc., etc. That , of course, is impossible.

Sometimes you can pick the one most important trade skill for a narrowly focused business, but even that will have limited applicability to that person's job as a manager. What's really needed from leaders/managers (except some in very narrowly focused industries) is leadership/management skills, not technical skills. Applied here, what's needed is:
  • The ability to identify/select, trust and empower experts in the necessary fields.
  • The ability to make decisions on matters in which they are not experts by absorbing information and using appropriate criteria to weigh and select from options provided.
  • The ability to communicate clearly, concisely and consistently.
  • Decisiveness; Choosing a path and staying with it for long enough for it to develop.
  • Flexibility; The ability to change path at an appropriate time in the face of new information.
  • A high level of confidence.
  • Interpersonal and political skills. I believe the technical term for this is "schmoozing".
 
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  • #26
Evo
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AMAZING COINCIDENCE:

After making post #19, I went downstairs for breakfast and the first article I read was about how the Mayor of Philly, during the 1918 flu pandemic, left to his "health commissioner, Wilmer Krusen, a political appointee with no prior public health experience" as to whether or no to hold a massive war bond rally.

Health officials had warned vehemently that the parade should not be held. Hundreds of cases had already been diagnosed and some dealths as well. It had already become clear that this was a pandemic. but Krusen merely requested that people cover their mouth if they cough. 200,000 tightly jammed spectators watched a 2-mile long parade of boy scouts, marching bands, etc go down the main avenue.

Within days the city's hospitals were swamped and a month later 12,000 were dead.

THEN, to really smack me in the face, the second article was about today in Iran where one of the big guns in their Academy of Medical Science is a "the most trusted adviser"of the head ayatollah of the country and this guy promotes widely debunked alternative medicine a cures for the virus. This Academy of Medical Science requires pharmacists in Iran to study homeopath for a year before getting their license because the politicians don't trust Western medicine.

So, @Evo, how do you have any kind of complete discussion about things like the above and the current situation we are discussing, without any comment on the politicians involved?

Don't get me wrong. I agree w/ your intent but I think you are being naive about the necessary political side of the discussion.
It's not that I think we can have a complete discussion of the situation without comment of who was involved, but , we're not allowed to, I've asked to have the rule relaxed due to the pandemic and I've been overruled.

The best we can do is show what's happening, maybe people that see it can get involved elsewhere.
 
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  • #27
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Sure, it would be nice if high level politicians during a health crisis had appropriate medical/scientific backgrounds.

The "doctor" in question is not a medical doctor. His bio says he does have a PhD, but normally that does not make someone a "doctor".

His boss, however, is a medical doctor.
His boss is a lawyer.
His boss is an elected official.
 
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  • #28
Evo
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Sometimes you can pick the one most important trade skill for a narrowly focused business, but even that will have limited applicability to that person's job as a manager. What's really needed from leaders/managers (except some in very narrowly focused industries) is leadership/management skills, not technical skills. Applied here, what's needed is:
  • The ability to identify/select, trust and empower experts in the necessary fields.
  • The ability to make decisions on matters in which they are not experts by absorbing information and using appropriate criteria to weigh and select from options provided.
  • The ability to communicate clearly, concisely and consistently.
  • Decisiveness; Choosing a path and staying with it for long enough for it to develop.
  • Flexibility; The ability to change path at an appropriate time in the face of new information.
  • A high level of confidence.
  • Interpersonal and political skills. I believe the technical term for this is "schmoozing".
I'd add
*Know when not to act out in revenge when you feel slighted
 
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  • #29
gmax137
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I wrote a long response to this thread. Then I deleted it. Now I feel better. :smile:
 
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  • #30
phinds
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I wrote a long response to this thread. Then I deleted it. Now I feel better. :smile:
Abe Lincoln used to write long vicious letters to political opponents, put them in a drawer, then take them out a week later and tear them up. He would agree with you.
 
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  • #31
Dr. Courtney
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My view is that government scientists should have full academic freedom in speaking and publishing on purely scientific matters, but when they are speaking as representatives of government institutions, there can be reasonable restrictions regarding what they say on public policy matters.

If an employee disregards reasonable restrictions when speaking on public policy matters, removal is an option.

If someone is really that good a scientist, there should be available work in the private sector.
 
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  • #32
phinds
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My view is that government scientists should have full academic freedom in speaking and publishing on purely scientific matters, but when they are speaking as representatives of government institutions, there can be reasonable restrictions regarding what they say on public policy matters.
This thread is not about a pubic health official commenting on policy matters and getting in trouble but on a public official / scientist talking about scientific fact and getting in trouble. There has been a lot of that lately in America.
 
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  • #33
hutchphd
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My view is that government scientists should have full academic freedom in speaking and publishing on purely scientific matters, but when they are speaking as representatives of government institutions, there can be reasonable restrictions regarding what they say on public policy matters.

If an employee disregards reasonable restrictions when speaking on public policy matters, removal is an option.

If someone is really that good a scientist, there should be available work in the private sector.

I'm sorry but this is so generic as to be cryptic.
  1. Scientific and Public Policy matters are almost never distinct.
  2. How is reasonable determined? Do we allow the mentally ill to do it?
  3. The private sector is almost certainly more restrictive: one of the lures of public service is that it is, well, public
Your final sentence is chilling.
 
  • #34
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Should a DOE program manager be able to say "Despite the administration's objections, the science of a Chinese high energy pp collider is compelling and the US should participate."?
 
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  • #35
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Should a DOE program manager be able to say "Despite the administration's objections, the science of a Chinese high energy pp collider is compelling and the US should participate."?

I think this issue is very clearly one of policy, whereas the issue of which treatments for a disease deserve more funding (the issue over which Richard Bright was allegedly removed from his position) is more clearly a scientific issue. Ultimately, the administration has the ability to make funding decisions like these, but if the decision was really made to place the scientific judgement of the President on the effectiveness of chloroquine as a treatment over the scientific judgement of Bright, I believe that this reflects some very bad practices within the leadership of the administration.

Speaking of unproven Coronavirus treatments, here is a selection from the transcript of yesterday's presidential Coronavirus briefing:
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. So I asked Bill a question that probably some of you are thinking of, if you’re totally into that world, which I find to be very interesting. So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light — and I think you said that that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it. And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way, and I think you said you’re going to test that too. It sounds interesting.

ACTING UNDER SECRETARY BRYAN: We’ll get to the right folks who could.

THE PRESIDENT: Right. And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So, that, you’re going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds — it sounds interesting to me.

So we’ll see. But the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute, that’s — that’s pretty powerful.
https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-vice-president-pence-members-coronavirus-task-force-press-briefing-31/

On the broader issue of whether political figures should overrule scientific appointees on scientific issues, I present the above as Exhibit A.
 
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