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TBR News April 24, 2020

Apr 24 2020

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. April 24, 2020: Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it. “
Comment for April 24, 2020:”Next, I think, Dr. Trump will advocate the drinking of a cup of Drano to clear coronavirus from the system. After that, battery acid will be strongly recommended. Trump may well have the intellect of a chicken but it is well-known throughout the land that He is never wrong! I suggest you try the battery acid out first on your mother-in-law.”

Trump aches from his head to his toes
His sphincters have gone where who knows
And his love life has ended
By a paunch so distended
That all he can use is his nose.

The Table of Contents
• Coronavirus: medical experts denounce Trump’s latest ‘dangerous’ treatment suggestion
• Yes, Trump Actually Suggested Injecting Disinfectants Into Your Veins Could Cure Coronavirus
• As Trump Urges Doctors to Lie on Live TV, Federal Official Says He Was Fired for Limiting Hydroxychloroquine Use
• Hydroxychloroquine and coronavirus: a guide to the scientific studies so far
• Sunlight, heat and humidity weaken coronavirus, U.S. official says
• Sieren’s China: EU won’t play Trump’s blame-Beijing game
• A History of the Numbers Game

Coronavirus: medical experts denounce Trump’s latest ‘dangerous’ treatment suggestion
Doctors warn president’s musings on disinfectant as a cure for coronavirus could lead to death
April 14, 2020
by David Smith in Washington
The Guardian
Donald Trump has stunned viewers by suggesting that people could receive injections of disinfectant to cure the coronavirus, a notion one medical expert described as “jaw-dropping”.
At Thursday’s White House coronavirus task force briefing, the US president discussed new government research on how the virus reacts to different temperatures, climates and surfaces.
“And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute,” Trump said. “One minute! And is there a way we can do something, by an 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’d be interesting to check that. So, that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me.”
Dr Deborah Birx, the task force response coordinator, remained silent. But social media erupted in hilarity and outrage at the president, who has a record of defying science and also floated the idea of treating patients’ bodies with ultraviolet (UV) light.
Several doctors warned the public against injecting disinfectant or using UV light.
Robert Reich, a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and a former labor secretary, tweeted: “Trump’s briefings are actively endangering the public’s health. Boycott the propaganda. Listen to the experts. And please don’t drink disinfectant.”
Walter Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, added: “It is incomprehensible to me that a moron like this holds the highest office in the land and that there exist people stupid enough to think this is OK. I can’t believe that in 2020 I have to caution anyone listening to the president that injecting disinfectant could kill you.”
Trump was already facing a backlash over his championing of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, as a therapy for the coronavirus, a quixotic effort amplified by the conservative network Fox News. Research has found no evidence that it is beneficial and a government vaccine expert has claimed he was fired for limiting its use.
Undeterred, on Thursday he showcased an “emerging result” from the Department of Homeland Security research that says coronavirus appears to weaken more quickly when exposed to sunlight, heat and humidity, raising hopes that it could become less contagious in summer months.
William Bryan, the acting homeland security under secretary for science and technology, testified at the briefing: “Our most striking observation to date is the powerful effect that solar light appears to have on killing the virus, both surfaces and in the air. We’ve seen a similar effect with both temperature and humidity as well, where increasing the temperature and humidity or both is generally less favorable to the virus.”
Researchers found that the virus survives best indoors and in dry conditions, and loses potency when temperatures and humidity rise. Bryan said: “The virus dies quickest in the presence of direct sunlight.”
He showed a slide summarising the results of the experiment that were carried out at National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center. He also said tests had been carried out with disinfectants. “I can tell you that bleach will kill the virus in five minutes. Isopropyl alcohol will kill the virus in 30 seconds and that’s with no manipulation, no rubbing.”
Trump seized on the findings to refer back to a claim he made on 14 February that warm weather might kill the virus, like common flu, noting that he had been criticised by the media. “I think a lot of people are going to go outside, all of a sudden, people that didn’t want to go outside,” he said.
And he asked Bryan an extraordinary question: “So supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light and I think you said 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’re going to test that too?”
UV rays are an invisible type of radiation that can penetrate and damage skin cells, and overexposure can cause skin cancer. How much sunlight would be needed to have an effect on the coronavirus is unknown. The virus has caused heavy death tolls in warm-weather areas such as Louisiana and Florida, and Singapore has seen a recent surge in cases.
A Washington Post reporter asked if it was dangerous for Trump to make people think they would be safe by going outside in summer heat. The president turned to Bryan and said: “I would like you to speak to the medical doctors to see if there’s any way that you can apply light and heat to cure.
“Maybe you can, maybe you can’t. Again, I say, maybe you can, maybe you can’t. I’m not a doctor.”
In a cringeworthy moment, he asked Birx if she had ever heard of heat and light in relation to the coronavirus. “Not as a treatment,” she said, explaining that the body responds to the virus with a fever.
When the Post reporter pressed further, Trump retorted: “I’m the president and you’re fake news … I’m just here to present talent, I’m here to present ideas.”
Experts questioned why the homeland security report had been promoted at the briefing. Dr Irwin Redlener, the director of the Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, told the MSNBC network: “Everything that this scientist talked about from homeland security was basically incoherent, nonsensical, not really supported by evidence and really quite contrary to a lot of things that we do know about some of the things he was saying.
“First of all, people do get Covid, have been getting Covid in warm climates, including New Orleans but also other countries that have a warm climate right now. Second of all, this issue with UV light is hypothetical but also UV light can be very harmful and we did not hear anything resembling a balanced discussion of what the evidence is for and against UV light, but it’s certainly not ready for prime time.”
He added: “The very fact that the president actually asked somebody about what sounded like injecting disinfectants or isopropyl alcohol into the human body was kind of jaw-dropping.”

Yes, Trump Actually Suggested Injecting Disinfectants Into Your Veins Could Cure Coronavirus
Please, please do not follow this advice!
April 24, 2020
by Alison Durkee
Vanity Fair
Among President Donald Trump’s most dangerous methods of responding to the coronavirus outbreak has been his passion for hyping unproven COVID-19 treatments, suggesting that drugs like hydroxychloroquine are a panacea for the deadly virus even as medical experts insist otherwise. “What do you have to lose? Take it,” Trump said about the anti-malaria drug in early April, only to later back off pushing the drug after studies suggested hydroxychloroquine could be ineffective among COVID-19 patients or actually contribute to higher death rates. But as Trump’s supposed miracle drug loses its shine, the president’s brainstorming for how to treat the coronavirus instead is getting more and more unhinged. After a White House science official presented research Thursday that suggested light and disinfectants like isopropyl alcohol and bleach could effectively kill the coronavirus on surfaces, Trump chimed in with his own helpful medical advice: Why not just get those things inside the body and kill off the coronavirus that way?
The president of the United States seriously suggested that Americans “clean” their bodies with disinfectant to treat the coronavirus, in response to Bill Bryan, who heads the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology division, touting cleaning agents’ ability to kill coronavirus on surfaces. “I see disinfectant, where it knocks [coronavirus] out in a minute—one minute—and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning,” Trump said at Thursday’s press briefing. “Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that. So you’re going to have to use medical doctors, but it sounds interesting to me.” (When Bryan said that his lab was not doing any research to look into that, the president responded, “Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t work.”)
The president also followed up on Bryan’s suggestion that the coronavirus appears to die off faster in sunlight and hot, humid conditions by declaring that light could also somehow be a coronavirus treatment when the virus is already inside the body. “Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light,” Trump said, “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.” The president later asked public health expert Dr. Deborah Birx if there were any current treatments using light or heat to cure the novel coronavirus. “I say maybe you can, maybe you can’t. I’m not a doctor, but I’m like a person that has a good you-know-what,” Trump said, pointing at his head. Birx responded that she “had not seen” light or heat being used as a “treatment” for the virus, though fever is a key way that the body combats viruses.
Obviously, there’s a lot that’s egregiously wrong with Trump’s line of thinking here. Disinfectants like bleach, isopropyl alcohol, and cleaners like Lysol and Clorox are not safe to be ingested, and can even be dangerous outside the body, with the coronavirus outbreak triggering a new surge of accidental poisonings from cleaning products. (Never mix bleach and vinegar!) “This notion of injecting or ingesting any type of cleansing product into the body is irresponsible, and it’s dangerous,” pulmonologist and global health policy expert Dr. Vin Gupta told NBC News about the president’s comments. “It’s a common method that people utilize when they want to kill themselves.”
While any potential benefits of sunlight and warm weather on coronavirus are still largely unclear—plenty of areas with hot, humid weather still have coronavirus outbreaks—the form of ultraviolet light most likely to effectively kill the coronavirus, UVC light, is far more powerful than regular sunlight, and it’s unsafe to expose your skin to it. As UV light has gotten hyped as a way to disinfect surfaces from the coronavirus, the World Health Organization even issued a specific warning against using ultraviolet light lamps on your hands or other skin areas, given the irritation that would occur. “UVC is really nasty stuff–you shouldn’t be exposed to it,” Dan Arnold, who works for disinfectant equipment company UV Light Technology, told the BBC. “It can take hours to get sunburn from UVB, but with UVC it takes seconds. If your eyes are exposed… you know that gritty feeling you get if you look at the sun? It’s like that times 10, just after a few seconds.”
As the coronavirus continues to claim thousands of lives, much still remains unknown about the disease and how to effectively treat it, even among the most highly-qualified health professionals. The president’s continued insistence on weighing into this high-stakes medical discussion with his completely uneducated spitballing has already proven to be dangerous, with his relentless chloroquine cheerleading killing at least one person who followed his advice while causing supply shortages for those who actually need the medication to treat conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Should supporters of the president heed his latest comments and try to treat the coronavirus by drinking bleach or exposing themselves to dangerous levels of UV light, even more damage is sure to follow. “It’s exceptionally dangerous,” Gupta told NBC about Trump’s advice. “There’s people who hang on to every word of the president.” Yet when Washington Post journalist Philip Rucker pointed out to Trump the perils of him pushing unproven treatments, telling the president Thursday that people “want to get information and guidance” out of his briefings and “are not looking for rumors,” Trump was quick to dismiss the idea that he should maybe stop feeding the rumor mill with his unfounded advice. “I’m the president, and you’re fake news,” Trump told Rucker.

As Trump Urges Doctors to Lie on Live TV, Federal Official Says He Was Fired for Limiting Hydroxychloroquine Use
April 22, 2020
by Robert Mackey and Sharon Lerner
The Intercept
Donald Trump tried and failed on Wednesday to coerce two of the government’s top medical experts to endorse his claim that a second wave of Covid-19 infections in the fall is unlikely, hours after a federal whistleblower said he was fired by the administration for limiting the use of an unproven drug treatment touted by the president.
During a televised briefing on the Covid-19 pandemic, the president publicly displayed the political pressure he puts on government scientists by badgering Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, to agree with his rosy projection that the virus “might not come back at all.”
Donald Trump tried and failed on Wednesday to coerce two of the government’s top medical experts to endorse his claim that a second wave of Covid-19 infections in the fall is unlikely, hours after a federal whistleblower said he was fired by the administration for limiting the use of an unproven drug treatment touted by the president.
During a televised briefing on the Covid-19 pandemic, the president publicly displayed the political pressure he puts on government scientists by badgering Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, to agree with his rosy projection that the virus “might not come back at all.”
“Doctor, wouldn’t you say there’s a good chance that Covid will not come back?” Trump asked Birx. As she began to respond, saying, “We don’t know–” Trump cut her off to add, “and if it comes back, it’s in a very small, confined area that we put out.”
“The great thing is, we’ll be able to find it earlier,” Birx said, diplomatically declining to endorse Trump’s unscientific theory. The best-case scenario, she added, is that widespread surveillance of new infections could enable the country “to stay in containment” mode later in the year, rather than being forced back into lockdowns to check the spread of infection.
Trump’s failed effort to put words in the doctor’s mouth came minutes after he had pressed Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, to recant comments he made on Tuesday to The Washington Post, when he warned of the “possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through.” The reason for that, the newspaper quoted Redfield as saying, is that, “We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time.”
After the president claimed that Redfield had been misquoted, he called the doctor to the podium to make a statement. Choosing his words carefully, Redfield said: “I didn’t say that this was going to be worse; I said it was going be more … difficult and potentially complicated, because we’ll have flu and coronavirus circulating at the same time.”
Moments later, however, when Jonathan Karl of ABC News read the full quote from the newspaper to Redfield, the CDC director acknowledged that he had been “accurately quoted in The Washington Post.”
“We will have coronavirus in the fall, I am convinced of that,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said shortly after Redfield’s Galileo moment. “What happens with that will depend on how we’re able to contain it when it occurs. What we’re saying is that in the fall, we will be much, much better prepared to do the kind of containment compared to what happened to us this winter.”
This live display of political pressure from the president on government scientists came just after one of the nation’s leading vaccine development experts, Dr. Rick Bright, accused the Trump administration of firing him because he refused to approve the widespread use of the drug hydroxychloroquine, which was heavily promoted until recently by Trump as a potential “game-changer” for Covid-19 patients.
In a statement released by his lawyers, Bright said that he was removed this week as the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, and as the deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response, in retaliation for his insistence on limiting the use of hydroxychloroquine.
Bright was transferred to a lesser role at the National Institutes of Health. “I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the COVID-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit,” Bright said. “I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way.”
“I also resisted efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections,” Bright added. “Specifically, and contrary to misguided directives, I limited the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, promoted by the Administration as a panacea, but which clearly lack scientific merit.”
The doctor also said that he had “resisted efforts to provide an unproven drug on demand to the American public,” and “insisted that these drugs be provided only to hospitalized patients with confirmed COVID-19 while under the supervision of a physician.”
“These drugs,” Bright noted, “have potentially serious risks associated with them, including increased mortality observed in some recent studies in patients with COVID-19.”
As The Intercept reported earlier this month, the American College of Cardiology released guidance warning that the combination of hydroxychloroquine, a drug normally used to treat malaria and lupus, along with the antibiotic azithromycin raises the risk for some patients of dangerous irregular heartbeats that could be fatal.
“I will request that the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services investigate the manner in which this Administration has politicized the work of BARDA and has pressured me and other conscientious scientists to fund companies with political connections as well as efforts that lack scientific merit,” Bright said. “Rushing blindly towards unproven drugs can be disastrous and result in countless more deaths. Science, in service to the health and safety of the American people, must always trump politics.”
Bright’s lawyers, Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, who previously represented Christine Blasey Ford when she accused then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, said that they would ask for the doctor’s “unlawful forced transfer” to be put on hold pending an investigation by the Health and Human Services inspector general.
Bright’s complaint came after a panel of experts convened by the the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases advised against treating Covid-19 patients with a combination of hydroxychloroquine, a commonly used antimalaria drug, and the antibiotic azithromycin — an unproven treatment Trump recommended repeatedly until last week.
While the results of randomized clinical trials of the drug treatment are still not in, a study of the records of 368 Veterans Affairs patients, released on Tuesday, found “no evidence” that hydroxychloroquine, with or without azithromycin, kept those infected with Covid-19 from needing ventilators. The study also found that 27.8 percent of those who were treated with hydroxychloroquine alone died, compared to 11.4 percent who received standard treatment without the drug.
Just a few weeks ago, hydroxychloroquine was Trump’s darling drug. The president was enamored with the medicine that has been used for malaria, which he called “one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine” in a tweet that was retweeted more than 100,000 times. When asked at an April 5 press conference about throwing his support behind an unproven treatment, he told reporters that the drug “doesn’t kill people,” going on to ask what he posed as a rhetorical question: “What do you have to lose?”
Less than three weeks later, after hospitals have given hydroxychloroquine to untold thousands of coronavirus patients, we have an answer to that question in the form of the study showing that veterans who were treated with the drug were significantly more likely to die than those who didn’t get it. So, despite what Trump has described as his “natural ability” to understand medical science, it turns out the drug actually might kill severely ill Covid-19 patients — or at least dramatically increase their chances of dying.
The short and disappointing story of this one possible coronavirus treatment heightens the many dangers of having a president who is not a doctor but sometimes plays one on TV and, more broadly, of letting hype and politics rather than science drive medical decisions. Among the questions we need to be asking amid the desperation to combat the new coronavirus is not just what patients might have to lose from getting drugs based on the enthusiasm rather than science, but what others might have to gain.
BARDA, the division of the Department of Health and Human Services Bright led until this week, is at the heart of the government response to the pandemic. Charged with developing treatment and prevention options against a wide range of specified threats, it has already issued at least 25 contracts worth almost $1.5 billion for products related to the coronavirus. Since 2019, when BARDA’s budget was $561 million, its spending has roughly tripled.
The biggest grants — worth more than $939 million — have gone to Janssen and Moderna Therapeutics for their work on potential coronavirus vaccines. While there are more than 70 candidates for a coronavirus vaccine, the criteria for selecting these companies for funding and the terms of their agreements are unclear. The BARDA contracts aren’t open to bidding, as many other government contracts are, and may not include the usual oversight and accountability protections for taxpayers under the Bayh-Dole Act. And BARDA has not made them public. A FOIA request for the contracts from The Intercept is pending.
James Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International, a watchdog on pharmaceutical patent abuse, said he was concerned about a lack of transparency at BARDA. “They’ve been unwilling to share basic information to make the agency and its contractors more accountable,” said Love.
“There’s been a lot of deference to the institutions that work on these biomedical issues with the assumption that they’re above reproach. But with something like this, where the president thinks the entire election hinges on this disease, it’s more political than ever.”
While the science behind BARDA’s decisions remains obscure, it’s clear that several of the companies that have recently received contracts have the personal support of the president. Executives from Moderna Therapeutics, Regeneron, and Johnson & Johnson, the parent company of Janssen, all of which recently received funding for coronavirus-related products through BARDA, were among a handful of pharmaceutical executives who met with Trump at the White House in early March. The president described the companies as “the biggest in the world, most prestigious, the ones that get down to the bottom line very quickly.”
Trump, who already had a relationship with Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky, singled out that company as “among the greatest in the world.” Later that month, the administration announced it was giving the company a $456 million contract to work on “a new vaccine asset” for the virus.
According to a March 29 news release from the HHS office Bright helped run, Sandoz, a drug manufacturer, donated 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to the Strategic National Stockpile, a collection of lifesaving supplies for public health emergencies, which is overseen by BARDA, and Bayer donated 1 million doses of the drug. Earlier in March, Bayer also donated 3 million tablets of its drug Resochin, a chloroquine phosphate treatment developed in 1934 which has recently been available only in Pakistan. The FDA, reportedly under pressure from Trump, issued an emergency use authorization for the donated hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to be used in the United States.
Tax law allows for deductions for charitable contributions to government “if the contribution or gift is made for exclusively public purposes.” According to the law, the deduction is generally capped at 10 percent of a corporation’s income.
Last week, Trump met for 40 minutes with people who had recovered from Covid-19 after taking hydroxychloroquine and pressed them to credit him for touting the drug.
“So you took the hydroxy?” he asked one of the survivors. “Why did you take the hydroxy? Why did you do that? You saw it on television?”
Donald Trump tried and failed on Wednesday to coerce two of the government’s top medical experts to endorse his claim that a second wave of Covid-19 infections in the fall is unlikely, hours after a federal whistleblower said he was fired by the administration for limiting the use of an unproven drug treatment touted by the president.
During a televised briefing on the Covid-19 pandemic, the president publicly displayed the political pressure he puts on government scientists by badgering Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, to agree with his rosy projection that the virus “might not come back at all.”
“Doctor, wouldn’t you say there’s a good chance that Covid will not come back?” Trump asked Birx. As she began to respond, saying, “We don’t know–” Trump cut her off to add, “and if it comes back, it’s in a very small, confined area that we put out.”
“The great thing is, we’ll be able to find it earlier,” Birx said, diplomatically declining to endorse Trump’s unscientific theory. The best-case scenario, she added, is that widespread surveillance of new infections could enable the country “to stay in containment” mode later in the year, rather than being forced back into lockdowns to check the spread of infection.
Trump’s failed effort to put words in the doctor’s mouth came minutes after he had pressed Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, to recant comments he made on Tuesday to The Washington Post, when he warned of the “possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through.” The reason for that, the newspaper quoted Redfield as saying, is that, “We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time.”
After the president claimed that Redfield had been misquoted, he called the doctor to the podium to make a statement. Choosing his words carefully, Redfield said: “I didn’t say that this was going to be worse; I said it was going be more … difficult and potentially complicated, because we’ll have flu and coronavirus circulating at the same time.”
Moments later, however, when Jonathan Karl of ABC News read the full quote from the newspaper to Redfield, the CDC director acknowledged that he had been “accurately quoted in The Washington Post.”
“We will have coronavirus in the fall, I am convinced of that,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said shortly after Redfield’s Galileo moment. “What happens with that will depend on how we’re able to contain it when it occurs. What we’re saying is that in the fall, we will be much, much better prepared to do the kind of containment compared to what happened to us this winter.”
This live display of political pressure from the president on government scientists came just after one of the nation’s leading vaccine development experts, Dr. Rick Bright, accused the Trump administration of firing him because he refused to approve the widespread use of the drug hydroxychloroquine, which was heavily promoted until recently by Trump as a potential “game-changer” for Covid-19 patients.
In a statement released by his lawyers, Bright said that he was removed this week as the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, and as the deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response, in retaliation for his insistence on limiting the use of hydroxychloroquine.
Bright was transferred to a lesser role at the National Institutes of Health. “I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the COVID-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit,” Bright said. “I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way.”
“I also resisted efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections,” Bright added. “Specifically, and contrary to misguided directives, I limited the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, promoted by the Administration as a panacea, but which clearly lack scientific merit.”
The doctor also said that he had “resisted efforts to provide an unproven drug on demand to the American public,” and “insisted that these drugs be provided only to hospitalized patients with confirmed COVID-19 while under the supervision of a physician.”
“These drugs,” Bright noted, “have potentially serious risks associated with them, including increased mortality observed in some recent studies in patients with COVID-19.”
As The Intercept reported earlier this month, the American College of Cardiology released guidance warning that the combination of hydroxychloroquine, a drug normally used to treat malaria and lupus, along with the antibiotic azithromycin raises the risk for some patients of dangerous irregular heartbeats that could be fatal.
“I will request that the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services investigate the manner in which this Administration has politicized the work of BARDA and has pressured me and other conscientious scientists to fund companies with political connections as well as efforts that lack scientific merit,” Bright said. “Rushing blindly towards unproven drugs can be disastrous and result in countless more deaths. Science, in service to the health and safety of the American people, must always trump politics.”
“Rushing blindly towards unproven drugs can be disastrous and result in countless more deaths,” Bright said.
Bright’s lawyers, Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, who previously represented Christine Blasey Ford when she accused then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, said that they would ask for the doctor’s “unlawful forced transfer” to be put on hold pending an investigation by the Health and Human Services inspector general.
Bright’s complaint came after a panel of experts convened by the the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases advised against treating Covid-19 patients with a combination of hydroxychloroquine, a commonly used antimalaria drug, and the antibiotic azithromycin — an unproven treatment Trump recommended repeatedly until last week.
While the results of randomized clinical trials of the drug treatment are still not in, a study of the records of 368 Veterans Affairs patients, released on Tuesday, found “no evidence” that hydroxychloroquine, with or without azithromycin, kept those infected with Covid-19 from needing ventilators. The study also found that 27.8 percent of those who were treated with hydroxychloroquine alone died, compared to 11.4 percent who received standard treatment without the drug.
Just a few weeks ago, hydroxychloroquine was Trump’s darling drug. The president was enamored with the medicine that has been used for malaria, which he called “one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine” in a tweet that was retweeted more than 100,000 times. When asked at an April 5 press conference about throwing his support behind an unproven treatment, he told reporters that the drug “doesn’t kill people,” going on to ask what he posed as a rhetorical question: “What do you have to lose?”
Less than three weeks later, after hospitals have given hydroxychloroquine to untold thousands of coronavirus patients, we have an answer to that question in the form of the study showing that veterans who were treated with the drug were significantly more likely to die than those who didn’t get it. So, despite what Trump has described as his “natural ability” to understand medical science, it turns out the drug actually might kill severely ill Covid-19 patients — or at least dramatically increase their chances of dying.
The short and disappointing story of this one possible coronavirus treatment heightens the many dangers of having a president who is not a doctor but sometimes plays one on TV and, more broadly, of letting hype and politics rather than science drive medical decisions. Among the questions we need to be asking amid the desperation to combat the new coronavirus is not just what patients might have to lose from getting drugs based on the enthusiasm rather than science, but what others might have to gain.
BARDA, the division of the Department of Health and Human Services Bright led until this week, is at the heart of the government response to the pandemic. Charged with developing treatment and prevention options against a wide range of specified threats, it has already issued at least 25 contracts worth almost $1.5 billion for products related to the coronavirus. Since 2019, when BARDA’s budget was $561 million, its spending has roughly tripled.
The biggest grants — worth more than $939 million — have gone to Janssen and Moderna Therapeutics for their work on potential coronavirus vaccines. While there are more than 70 candidates for a coronavirus vaccine, the criteria for selecting these companies for funding and the terms of their agreements are unclear. The BARDA contracts aren’t open to bidding, as many other government contracts are, and may not include the usual oversight and accountability protections for taxpayers under the Bayh-Dole Act. And BARDA has not made them public. A FOIA request for the contracts from The Intercept is pending.
While there are more than 70 candidates for a coronavirus vaccine, the criteria for selecting these companies for funding and the terms of their agreements are unclear.
James Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International, a watchdog on pharmaceutical patent abuse, said he was concerned about a lack of transparency at BARDA. “They’ve been unwilling to share basic information to make the agency and its contractors more accountable,” said Love.
“There’s been a lot of deference to the institutions that work on these biomedical issues with the assumption that they’re above reproach. But with something like this, where the president thinks the entire election hinges on this disease, it’s more political than ever.”
While the science behind BARDA’s decisions remains obscure, it’s clear that several of the companies that have recently received contracts have the personal support of the president. Executives from Moderna Therapeutics, Regeneron, and Johnson & Johnson, the parent company of Janssen, all of which recently received funding for coronavirus-related products through BARDA, were among a handful of pharmaceutical executives who met with Trump at the White House in early March. The president described the companies as “the biggest in the world, most prestigious, the ones that get down to the bottom line very quickly.”
Trump, who already had a relationship with Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky, singled out that company as “among the greatest in the world.” Later that month, the administration announced it was giving the company a $456 million contract to work on “a new vaccine asset” for the virus.
According to a March 29 news release from the HHS office Bright helped run, Sandoz, a drug manufacturer, donated 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to the Strategic National Stockpile, a collection of lifesaving supplies for public health emergencies, which is overseen by BARDA, and Bayer donated 1 million doses of the drug. Earlier in March, Bayer also donated 3 million tablets of its drug Resochin, a chloroquine phosphate treatment developed in 1934 which has recently been available only in Pakistan. The FDA, reportedly under pressure from Trump, issued an emergency use authorization for the donated hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to be used in the United States.
Tax law allows for deductions for charitable contributions to government “if the contribution or gift is made for exclusively public purposes.” According to the law, the deduction is generally capped at 10 percent of a corporation’s income.
Last week, Trump met for 40 minutes with people who had recovered from Covid-19 after taking hydroxychloroquine and pressed them to credit him for touting the drug.
“So you took the hydroxy?” he asked one of the survivors. “Why did you take the hydroxy? Why did you do that? You saw it on television?”
“So you might have said,” Trump pressed the husband of one African-American patient who picked up her prescription for hydroxychloroquine late at night, “When you started that walk or run, ‘What the hell do I have to lose?’ Right?”
“You know my expression, ‘What do I have to lose?’” Trump asked, referring to a phrase he first used to urge black voters to support him in 2016, and recently repurposed to promote the experimental hydroxychloroquine treatment.
“I thought about that — what you said,” the man said. “Yeah.”

Hydroxychloroquine and coronavirus: a guide to the scientific studies so far
The drug – now a partisan wedge issue – has fueled hype and hope, but evidence of its effectiveness remains limited
April 23, 2020
by Julia Carrie Wong in San Francisco
The Guardian
With endorsements from a controversial French physician, Fox News and Donald Trump, hydroxychloroquine – an old anti-malarial drug that is today more commonly used to treat lupus – has received a disproportionate amount of attention as a potential treatment for Covid-19.
It has also become another partisan political wedge issue in the US: conservative politicians and media figures have hyped studies that support the theory that the drug is a potential treatment. And on Wednesday, Rick Bright, the head of a US government agency charged with investing in treatments and responses for pandemics, said he was forced out of his job over his resistance to the administration’s “misguided directives” promoting “broad use” of the drug, which he said “clearly lack scientific merit”.
The hype around hydroxychloroquine is irresponsible, but the hope is understandable. There is as yet no drug that has been shown to be effective against the coronavirus, which has killed more than 180,000 people worldwide.
The limited evidence around hydroxychloroquine so far has come in a steady stream of scientific studies, often as soon as they are posted online as “preprints” – ie before they have gone through the rigorous vetting process known as peer review. None of the studies that have been released meet the gold standard for demonstrating a drug’s effectiveness – a large-scale, double-blinded randomized controlled trial (RCT), though multiple trials of that kind are under way.
While the world awaits those results, here’s a guide to some of the studies released thus far:
In vitro v in vivo
In early February, the journal Cell Research published a letter to the editor by Chinese scientists reporting the results of their experiments looking at whether existing drugs might be effective against the coronavirus. The scientists tested five drugs in vitro – meaning on cells infected with the virus in a laboratory rather than in humans – and found promising results for two: remdesivir and chloroquine. (Chloroquine is a close relative to hydroxychloroquine, which is considered safer.)
Caveats: There is a big difference between a drug showing promise in a laboratory and working in patients. Scientists have gotten similarly promising results with hydroxychloroquine against various viruses in past in vitro studies, including against the first Sars, but have yet to show its effectiveness against any virus in RCTs.
The controversial French study
Much of the media hype around hydroxychloroquine stems from a French study of the drug which purported to show significant reduction in viral load for patients treated with a combination of HCQ and azithromycin, a common antibiotic. The study was a clinical trial, meaning it involved actual patients, and underwent peer review before publication in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents (IJAA).
Caveats: There are numerous problems with this study’s design and the way its results were reported. The researchers downplayed the clinical outcomes – ie whether or not the patient improved, got worse or died – and instead based their analysis on measuring how long a patient was shedding the virus – ie whether the researchers were able to detect its presence from a nasal swab. All of the four patients with clear bad outcomes (three went to the ICU and one died) received the HCQ but were excluded from the viral shedding analysis. The researchers said that the remaining patients who received the drug shed virus for a shorter duration. This opened the door for people promoting the drug to mischaracterize their results and say they showed a “100% cure rate”.
The professional association affiliated with the IJAA has said the article “does not meet the society’s expected standard”, and the publisher has initiated additional independent peer review.
Meanwhile, the group of French scientists has continued to publish preprints reporting results on their continued use of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin on patients in Marseille, without any control group.
A small Chinese clinical trial
In early April, Chinese scientists published a study looking at 62 patients with mild cases of Covid-19. Unlike the French trial, the study was randomized and the treatment and control groups were comparable. The study found a statistically significant difference in the time it took the two groups to recover, with patients who received HCQ showing shorter periods of fever and cough.
Caveats: The number of patients involved was very small, and the researchers did not include any patients with severe or critical illness. This paper has not yet been peer-reviewed. The study authors concluded that their results “partially confirmed” the potential of HCQ as a treatment, but they said large-scale trials were still needed, as well as basic research to understand the mechanism by which the drug is affecting people.
A retrospective analysis of patient data from France
While awaiting the results of large-scale clinical trials, some scientists have performed retrospective analyses of real-life patients to emulate a clinical trial. This works by selecting a cohort of patients who received the drug and an equivalent cohort who did not and then comparing their outcomes. In a French retrospective analysis posted as a preprint in mid-April, researchers found “no evidence” that HCQ was an effective treatment when comparing 84 patients who received the drug and 97 who did not.
Caveats: Retrospective analyses are not a substitute for RCTs. One clear confounding factor is that researchers do not know why physicians decided to treat some patients with HCQ and others not. The paper has also not yet been peer-reviewed.
Red flags in an aborted Brazilian trial
While hydroxychloroquine is considered safe for its approved uses, it does have side-effects, including increasing the risk of heart arrhythmias in some people. In mid-April, a group of researchers in Brazil posted a preprint revealing that they had called a halt to a clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine at high doses after they observed high rates of arrhythmias and a large number of deaths. The researchers “strongly recommended” that physicians no longer use the high dose of the drug.
Caveats: The Brazilian trial was designed to compare the efficacy of two different doses of hydroxychloroquine, and it did not include a control group that only received a placebo. Researchers found the higher dose, which they chose because it was recommended by Chinese authorities, to be unsafe, but they are continuing to test the efficacy of a lower dose. Their paper has not yet been peer-reviewed.
A retrospective analysis of US veterans
Similarly to the French retrospective analysis, researchers in the US looked at the outcomes for 368 patients who were treated for Covid-19 in the country’s Veterans Health Administration hospitals. The patients were broken into three groups: those who received HCQ, those who received HCQ and azithromycin, and those who did not receive HCQ. They found that HCQ, with or without azithromycin, did not reduce a patient’s need for a ventilator or reduce the risk of death. They also found that those who received HCQ alone had a higher risk of death than those who did not.
Caveats: The analysis was limited to male patients. As with the French retrospective analysis, this study is not a substitute for RCTs. One major confounding factor is that the patients who received HCQ were more severely ill. The researchers say that they accounted for this in their statistical analysis and still found a higher mortality rate for those receiving HCQ. The study has not yet been peer-reviewed.
US government recommendations
A panel of experts put together by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the agency led by Dr Anthony Fauci, released treatment guidelines for Covid-19 on 21 April. The panel said that there was insufficient data to “recommend either for or against” hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine. However, the panel recommended against the use of hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin due to the risk of cardiac arrhythmia.

Sunlight, heat and humidity weaken coronavirus, U.S. official says
April 23, 2020
by Steve Holland and Andy Sullivan
Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The coronavirus appears to weaken more quickly when exposed to sunlight, heat and humidity, a U.S. official said on Thursday in a potential sign that the pandemic could become less contagious in summer months.
U.S. government researchers have determined that the virus survives best indoors and in dry conditions, and loses potency when temperatures and humidity rise – and especially when it is exposed to sunlight, said William Bryan, acting head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate.
“The virus dies quickest in the presence of direct sunlight,” he told a White House news briefing.
The findings could bolster hopes that the coronavirus will mimic the behavior of other respiratory diseases like influenza, which typically are less contagious in warm weather.
But the coronavirus has also proven lethal in warm-weather places like Singapore, raising broader questions about the impact of environmental factors.
President Donald Trump said the findings should be interpreted cautiously, but also claimed vindication for previously suggesting that the coronavirus might recede in summer.
“I once mentioned that maybe it does go away with heat and light. And people didn’t like that statement that much,” he said at the briefing.
Sixteen U.S. states are laying plans to restart their economies and ease regulations designed to slow the spread of the pandemic. Georgia and South Carolina are allowing some businesses to reopen this week – a move that health authorities say could lead to more deaths because they do not have enough tests to assess how many people are infected.
Trump’s administration says states should wait until they have proof that infection rates have dropped steadily for two weeks.
Vice President Mike Pence said states should allow hospitals and other medical facilities to resume elective surgeries, an important source of revenue that some governors have banned in order to keep hospitals clear for coronavirus patients.
Trump said Americans might need to maintain social distancing into early summer, even though some states were showing signs of progress.
Trump has encouraged protests against social-distancing restrictions in some states. But he criticized Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a fellow Republican, for moving too quickly.
“I want the people in Georgia to be safe, and I don’t want this thing to flare up because you’re deciding to do something that is not in the guidelines,” he said.
More than 874,000 people in the United States are known to have been infected and over 49,600 have died of COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, according to a Reuters tally.
18 HOURS VERSUS TWO MINUTES
On nonporous surfaces like stainless steel, the new coronavirus takes 18 hours to lose half its strength in a dark, low-humidity environment, Bryan said.
In a high-humidity environment, that half-life dropped to six hours, and when the virus was exposed to high humidity and sunlight, the half-life dropped to two minutes, he said.
Researchers found a similar effect with the coronavirus that was suspended in the air – simulating the coughing or sneezing that often spreads the disease. In a dark room, the virus maintained half its strength for an hour. But when exposed to sunlight, it lost half its strength in 90 seconds, Bryan said.
Researchers also found that isopropyl alcohol was a more effective disinfectant than bleach, he said.
Trump said researchers should try to apply their findings to coronavirus patients by inserting light or disinfectant into their bodies.
“Is there a way we can do something like that by injection, inside, or almost a cleaning?” he said. “It would be interesting to check that.”
Reporting by Steve Holland, Andy Sullivan, Makini Brice, Jeff Mason, Mohammad Zarghman and Alexandra Alper; Writing by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Peter Cooney

Sieren’s China: EU won’t play Trump’s blame-Beijing game
The president has tried to focus attention on China after he failed to adequately address the pandemic in this US election year. This strategy could pan out for him at home — but nobody is fooled in the European Union.
April 23, 2020
DW
At the end of January, President Donald Trump praised China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, tweeting that US officials appreciated the country’s “efforts and transparency.” At the time, the virus was still China’s problem. Trump could not imagine what was coming.
Now his tune has changed. If the figures released by Beijing are to be believed, there have been almost 10 times as many fatalities in the United States as there have been in China. The United States has a quarter of the population.
By attempting to blame China for the virus’s spread, Trump is trying to deflect attention from his own shortcomings in confronting the pandemic and the fact that he wasted precious weeks ignoring the warning signs. He recently said China would have to face consequences if officials were “knowingly responsible” for the pandemic.
This was a guarded reference to the initial days of the outbreak, when China’s repressive state machine clamped down on doctors, journalists and whistleblowers who wanted to warn others that the highly contagious novel coronavirus had appeared. It was also a hint at a conspiracy theory that the strain had escaped from a Wuhan lab during experiments, although evidence points to it having occurred naturally and most probably having originated in bats.
‘A constructive role’?
Though EU politicians say there needs to be a review of the origins of the pandemic, their criticism of China has been restrained and accompanied by indications that cooperation is their goal. Aware of China’s importance for the global economy, EU states are unlikely to let Trump set the tone, particularly countries such as Italy and Spain, which depend on China at the moment for medical aid.
Dominic Raab, who was deputized to fill in while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson recovered from COVID-19, said China would face “hard questions” about the source of the novel coronavirus.
French President Emmanuel Macron told the Financial Times that “there are clearly things that have happened that we don’t know about.”
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Chinese officials would need to demonstrate their commitment to transparency — especially after the authorities revealed that the number of deaths in Wuhan was considerably higher than previously reported. “These are all questions that need to be answered,” Maas said, “and I assume that China, as it is publicly represented, will play a constructive role in this.”
Trump’s announcement that the United States would suspend its financial contributions to the World Health Organization also did not go down well in the European Union. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been reticent to criticize Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic openly, said the WHO was an indispensable partner for Germany.
Though Trump might be a little annoyed at the lack of success for his anti-China campaign, it will not likely damage him domestically: After all, what he’s doing is attempting to create an external enemy to rally voters at home. He’s hoping that voters will elect the candidate who dares to defy China — a strategy that unfortunately could work out for him.

A History of the Numbers Game
April 24, 2020
by Christian Jürs
On Saturday, October 25, 1941, Hitler received Count Ciano, Italian Foreign Minister at his East Prussian military headquarters for a conference. Present were a number of senior government officials. Following the conference, Hitler held a small, private dinner for several of these personages. One of them was Heinrich Himmler, Chief of the SS and the other was (SS-Obergruppenführer) Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Main State Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt-RSHA) which controlled the Gestapo and the SD. During the course of the dinner, Hitler said:
“From the rostrum of the Reichstag I prophesized to Jewry that, in the event of war’s proving inevitable, the Jew would disappear from Europe. That race of criminals has on its conscience the two million dead of the First World War, and now already hundreds of thousands more.”
At this point, historians generally comment on Hitler’s obvious intention to slaughter all the Jews he could lay his hands on. The generally unreported balance of the conversation conveys a rather different meaning.
“Let nobody tell me that all the same we can’t park them in the marshy parts of Russia! Who’s worrying about our troops? It’s not a bad idea, by the way, that public rumor attributes to us a plan to exterminate the Jews. Terror is a salutary thing.”1
The question of the number of persons who died in Auschwitz has been addressed in a publication entitled Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp.2 A chapter by Franciszek Piper entitled “The Number of Victims” addresses the issues discussed here and sections of it deserve to be quoted and enlarged upon.
“In erasing traces of the crimes perpetrated in Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazis destroyed documents that could serve as the basis for determining how many people died there. When the Soviet soldiers liberated the camp in January 1945, they found documents that confirmed only 100,000 deaths. Yet surviving prisoners maintained that millions had perished at Auschwitz.
Faced with this disparity, officials of the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission, the organization entrusted with investigating the crimes committed at Auschwitz, conducted an in-depth study. Based on witness testimonies regarding the capacity of the camp and the length of time that its machinery for mass murder was operative, (emphasis added) the commission concluded that no fewer than four million (emphasis added) persons were put to death at the camp…Four million…is the number recorded in Polish literature, as well as in publications of other countries.”
In ‘The Final Solution’, one of the first books to deal with the Holocaust, published in 1953, the figure of four million was radically reevaluated. English art historian Gerald Reitlinger estimated the number of victims at Auschwitz to be roughly 800,000 to 900,000, (emphasis added) based on an analysis of the losses of Jews reported by specific countries…
The destruction by the Nazis of most Auschwitz records is the most important cause of divergent estimates…researchers had to rely on discrepant and imprecise data from testimonies and depositions of witnesses, former prisoners and Nazi functionaries and on court decisions and fragmentary and incomplete records of camp registries, archives, (sic) and other institutions. (Emphasis added).”
The question of the destruction of Auschwitz records has been raised over the years to support the claims that large numbers of people died in the camp but were not recorded. If the SS camp administration did destroy or remove official records from Auschwitz before the complex was overrun by the Soviets in early 1945, they did not and could not touch the records that had been sent to the headquarters of the camp system outside of Berlin, or any other copies sent to different agencies. According to the author of the article, the Soviets did find records indicating 100,000 deaths.
Reliance on anything originating from Stalin’s agents is totally unrealistic. The Soviets had no problem continuously rewriting their own history and obviously would have had no problem rewriting the history of other nations. The concurrence of the Poles in Soviet findings has no validity whatsoever. Poland was under complete control of the Soviets at the time of their reports and any official commission would do precisely as it was told by its masters.
It was only after the implosion of the Soviet Empire that their state archives became available to outside researchers, at least on a limited basis. As has been noted before, it was the standard policy of the Soviet government to denigrate and attack the government of West Germany, not support it. The microfilms released by the Russian archives in the early 1990s were copies of documents found at the SS camp headquarters in 1945 and had these supported the theory of extensive extermination programs, they certainly would have been released years before.
There is another argument used to explain the lack of documentation supporting the thesis of a million or more dead at Auschwitz. This argument claims that endless transports of Jews were delivered to the camp, not recorded anywhere and immediately executed. This, it is claimed, explains why there is such a disparity between official German figures and those proposed by others.
This argument has some fleeting validity but the question arises that if these transports were unrecorded in German records, how could anyone use them as references other than by supposition and speculation? It is very difficult to have one’s cake and eat it too.
The question of transport also needs to be addressed. When the German Reichsbahn scheduled rail transportation to Auschwitz, it was listed officially as special trains (Sonderzug) which indicated that the transports were privately contracted…in this case by the SS. If these transports were of an official, State nature, they would be listed as regular traffic, paid for by the government. While in the beginning of the forced Jewish emigration prior to the war, the Jewish community in Germany and overseas was compelled to pay for the emigration out of their own pockets, such accommodations were not operational during the war except in rare cases. It should also be noted that transport from Auschwitz taking manufactured products to various points in Europe were also listed as Special Trains. Auschwitz was part of the SS economic empire and as such, was run by the SS and not the German government. The Armed SS (Waffen-SS) was not an official part of the Wehrmacht and its operating expenses, as were the operating expenses for the entire SS, had to be paid for by the SS itself.
This in itself would cast considerable doubt on the thesis that a vast extermination program had been ordered by Hitler officially as State policy. When the SS ran out of operating capital, the transports stopped running.
The use of prisoner labor was certainly addressed in the numerous trials held after the war.
Another thesis often expressed is that the victims at Auschwitz were nearly all Jewish. Reports from the camp break down the exact number of inmates by groups, to include Jews. At Auschwitz, by far the largest group were those held in protective custody or as political prisoners.
With former Soviet archival material now available, a greater balance should be much easier to obtain. It was only their stubborn refusal to release these records that allowed inflated figures, supported only with anecdotal and unsupported material, to flourish and, like ivy, expand and cover every aspect of the building beneath.
This archival material has, in fact, been available on microfilm since 1989 but is rarely discussed.
An article in the New York ‘Times’ of March 3, 1991 quotes the Soviet sources with considerable accuracy. Forty-six camps are covered with a total death toll of more than 400,000. Auschwitz records contain approximately 70,000 death certificates and in addition the death totals of 130,000 among the forced laborers in all camps and 200,000 additional names of various classes of prisoners in all camps to include Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and Gross Rosen. When queried about this article and the numbers reflected in it, Red Cross officials in Washington, DC agreed that they were indeed the figures contained in the microfilms they had received from Soviet sources but that “special secret lists” existed that boosted the death toll far higher. Further questioning elicited that no one had seen these “secret lists” but that they must certainly exist and that quoting from the official records was “misleading” and should not be done.
The records of the concentration camp system discovered by the Soviets at the system headquarters outside of Berlin in 1945 are complete. From a chronological point of view, there are no gaps. Many of the records found by the Soviets at Auschwitz are not complete but the headquarters files contain copies of all the Auschwitz records
The arrest, deportation and forced labor of a large number of people, including Jews, was repugnant and on a parallel with the British concentration camps (from whence the name came) instituted during the Boer War in which over 20,000 Boer women and children died in conditions of disease, filth and squalor, and is not possible to ignore or justify.3
Aside from the records of the camp headquarters seized by the Soviets in 1945 from Oranienburg, another source exists that deals with the monthly population reports made by the individual camps to headquarters. These consisted of radio reports sent in to Oranienburg on a monthly basis. From early 1942 through February of 1943, British intelligence was monitoring these reports and in their official history of the British intelligence system, stated that,
“The returns from Auschwitz, the largest of the camps with 20,000 prisoners, mentioned illness as the main cause of death, but included references to shootings and hangings. There were no references in the decrypts to gassing.” (emphasis added) 4
Given inaccurate demographics about the post-war Jewish population, there is still a considerable gap in the number of Jews, mostly Polish Jews, who were living in Poland in 1939 and unaccounted for in 1945. The assumption was made, and is still being made, that these differences were clearly explained by the extermination theory.
The former Soviet Union maintained a rigid control over its files until its collapse, and it has only been since this point in time that a much clearer picture of events has become evident.
In 1995, Russian author Arkady Vaksberg, a Jewish writer, attorney, and investigative journalist, published a book entitled Stalin Against The Jews, the basic theme of which is the persecution of Soviet Jews by Stalin after he had used them against his enemies. Vaksberg goes into some detail about the Polish Jews who, in September of 1939, fled the German advance into Poland and went into the Soviet Union. Vaksberg states that these Polish Jews were seized by Stalin’s agencies and put into prison camps.
The author states that exact figures of these prisoners are not presently available but speaks of “hundreds of thousands.” He also mentions that Soviet border police shot down many escaping Jews before they crossed the border into Communist territory. Survival in Soviet Gulags was very poor; of the 80,000 German prisoners of war captured at Stalingrad, only 6,000 were alive in 1955 to return to Germany. How many of these hundreds of thousands of Polish Jews survived the war is not known, but perhaps former Soviet archives hold the final answer to this issue, an issue that has persisted for half a century.5
After the breakup of the Yugoslav state in the 1990s, the “ethnic cleansing” by the winsome Serbs of anyone they disliked, including Catholics and Jews, was greeted with a chorus of dismay from other nations…but nothing more.
1“Hitler’s Secret Conversations, 1941-1945,” New York, 1953, p 72, Protocol 52.
2 “Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp,” ed. Yisrael Gutman and Michael Berenbaum, 1994, Indiana University Press. pps 61 et seq.
3Amery, vol.5, 252, 253, 601; vol. 6, 24-25
4 “British Intelligence in the Second World War,” Hinsley et al, London, 1980, vol. 11, p 673.
5 “Stalin Against the Jews,” Vaksberg, New York, 1995, pp 103-107.

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