Why France is hiding a cheap and tested virus cure, by Pepe Escobar - The Unz Review
The French government is arguably helping Big
Pharma profit from the Covid-19 pandemic
What’s going on in the fifth largest economy in the world arguably points
to a major collusion scandal in which the French government is helping Big
Pharma to profit from the expansion of Covid-19. Informed French citizens are
absolutely furious about it.
My initial question to a
serious, unimpeachable Paris source, jurist Valerie Bugault, was about the
liaisons dangereuses between Macronism and Big Pharma and especially about the
mysterious “disappearance” – more likely outright theft – of all the stocks of
chloroquine in possession of the French government.
Respected Professor Christian
Perronne talked about the theft live in one
of France’s 24/7 info channels: “The central pharmacy for the hospitals
announced today that they were facing a total rupture of stocks, that they were
With input from another,
anonymous source, it’s now possible to establish a timeline that puts in
much-needed perspective the recent actions of the French government.
Let’s start with Yves Levy, who
was the head of INSERM – the French National Institute of
Health and Medical Research – from 2014 to 2018, when he was appointed as extraordinary state councilor for
the Macron administration. Only 12 people in France have reached this status.
Levy is married to Agnes Buzy,
who until recently was minister of health under Macron. Buzy was essentially
presented with an “offer you can’t refuse” by Macron’s party to leave the
ministry – in the middle of the coronavirus crisis – and run for Mayor of
Paris, where she was mercilessly trounced in the first round on March 16.
Levy has a vicious running feud with Professor Didier
Raoult – prolific and often-cited Marseille-based specialist in communicable
diseases. Levy withheld the INSERM label from the world-renowned IHU (Hospital-University
Institute) research center directed by Raoult.
In practice, in October 2019,
Levy revoked the status of “foundation” of the different IHUs so he could take
over their research.
Raoult was part of a clinical trial that
in which hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin healed 90% of Covid-19 cases if
they were tested very early. (Early, massive testing is at the heart of the
successful South Korean strategy.)
Raoult is opposed to the total
lockdown of sane individuals and possible carriers – which he considers
“medieval,” in an anachronistic sense. He’s in favor of massive testing (which,
besides South Korea, was successful in Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam) and a
fast treatment with hydroxychloroquine. Only contaminated individuals should be
Chloroquine costs one euro for
ten pills. And there’s the rub: Big Pharma – which, crucially, finances INSERM,
and includes “national champion” Sanofi – would
rather go for a way more profitable solution. Sanofi for the moment says it
is “actively preparing” to
produce chloroquine, but that may take “weeks,” and there’s no mention about
A minister fleeing a tsunami
Here’s the timeline:
On January 13, Agnes Buzyn,
still France’s Health Minister, classifies chloroquine as a “poisonous
substance,” from now on only available by prescription. An astonishing move,
considering that it has been sold off the shelf in France for half a century.
But then, over the years, the
strategic stocks were not renewed, to please the EU and to apply the
Maastricht criteria, which limited membership in the Growth and
Stability Pact to countries whose budget deficits did not exceed 3% of GDP. One
of those in charge at the time was Jerome Salomon, now a scientific counselor
to the Macron government.
On March 17, Agnes Buzyn says
she has learned the spread of Covid-19 will be a major tsunami, for
which the French health system has no solution. She also says it had been her
understanding that the Paris mayoral election “would not take place” and that
it was, ultimately, “a masquerade.”
What she does not say is that
she didn’t go public at the time she was running because the whole political
focus by the Macron political machine was on winning the “masquerade.” The
first round of the election meant nothing, as Covid-19 was advancing. The
second round was postponed indefinitely. She had to know about the impending
healthcare disaster. But as a candidate of the Macron machine she did not go
public in timely fashion.
In quick succession:
The Macron government refuses
to apply mass testing, as practiced with success in South Korea and Germany.
Le Monde and the French state
health agency characterize Raoult’s research as fake news, before issuing a
Professor Perrone reveals on
the 24/7 LCI news channel that the stock of chloroquine at the French central
pharmacy has been stolen.
Thanks to a tweet by Elon Musk,
President Trump says chloroquine should be available to all
Americans. Sufferers of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, who
already have supply problems with the only drug that offers them relief, set
social media afire with their panic.
Morocco buys the stock of
chloroquine from Sanofi in Casablanca.
Pakistan decides to increase
its production of chloroquine to be sent to China.
Switzerland discards the total
lockdown of its population; goes for mass testing and fast treatment; and
accuses France of practicing “spectacle politics.”
Christian Estrosi, the mayor of
Nice, having had himself treated with chloroquine, without any government input,
directly calls Sanofi so they may deliver chloroquine to Nice hospitals.
Because of Raoult’s research, a
large-scale chloroquine test finally starts in France, under the – predictable
– direction of INSERM, which wants to “remake the experiments in other
independent medical centers.” This will take at least an extra six weeks – as
the Elysee Palace’s scientific council now mulls the extension of France’s total lockdown to
… six weeks.
If joint use of
hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin proves definitely effective among the most
gravely ill, quarantines may be reduced in select clusters.
The only French company that
still manufactures chloroquine is under judicial intervention.
That puts the chloroquine hoarding and theft into full perspective. It will
take time for these stocks to be replenished, thus allowing Big Pharma the
leeway to have what it wants: a costly solution.
It appears the perpetrators of
the chloroquine theft were very well informed.
This chain of events, astonishing
for a highly developed G-7 nation proud of its health service, is part of a
long, painful process embedded in neoliberal dogma. EU-driven austerity mixed
with the profit motive resulted in a very lax attitude towards the health
As Bugault told me, “test kits
– very few in number – were always available but mostly for a small group
connected to the French government [ former officials of the Ministry of
Finance, CEOs of large corporations, oligarchs, media and entertainment
moguls]. Same for chloroquine, which this government did everything to make
inaccessible for the population.
They did not make life easy for
Professor Raoult – he received death threats and was intimidated by
And they did not protect vital
stocks. Still under the Hollande government, there was a conscious liquidation
of the stock of masks – which had existed in large quantities in all hospitals.
Not to mention that the suppression of hospital beds and hospital means
accelerated under Sarkozy.”
This ties in with anguished
reports by French citizens of nurses now having to use trash bags due to the
lack of proper medical gear.
At the same time, in another
astonishing development, the French state refuses to requisition private
hospitals and clinics – which are practically empty at this stage – even as the
president of their own association, Lamine Garbi, has pleaded for such
a public service initiative: “I solemnly demand that we are requisitioned to
help public hospitals. Our facilities are prepared. The wave that surprised the
east of France must teach us a lesson.”
Bugault reconfirms the health
situation in France “is very serious and will become even worse due to these
political decisions – absence of masks, political refusal to massively test
people, refusal of free access to chloroquine – in a context of supreme distress
at the hospitals. This will last and destitution will be the norm.”
Professor vs president
In an explosive development on
Tuesday, Raoult said he’s not participating in Macron’s scientific council
anymore, even though he’s not quitting it altogether. Raoult once again insists
on massive testing on a national scale to detect suspected cases, and then
isolate and treat patients who tested positive. In a nutshell: the South Korean
That’s exactly what is expected
from the IHU in Marseille, where hundreds of residents continue to queue up for
testing. And that ties in with the conclusions by a top Chinese expert on
Covid-19, Zhang Nanshan, who says that treatment
with chloroquine phospate had a “positive impact,” with patients testing
negative after around four days.
The key point has been stressed
by Raoult: Use chloroquine in very special circumstances, for people tested
very early, when the disease is not advanced yet, and only in these cases. He’s
not advocating chloroquine for everyone. It’s exactly what the Chinese did,
along with their use of Interferon.
For years, Raoult has been
pleading for a drastic revision of health economic models, so the treatments,
cure and therapies created mostly during the 20th century, are considered a
patrimony in the service of all humanity.“That’s not the case”, he says,
“because we abandon medicine that is not profitable, even if it’s effective.
That’s why almost no antibiotics are manufactured in the West.”
On Tuesday, the French Health
Ministry officially prohibited the utilization of treatment based on
chloroquine recommended by Raoult. In fact the treatment is only allowed for
terminal Covid-19 patients, with no other possibility of healing. This cannot
but expose the Macron government to more accusations of at least inefficiency –
added to the absence of masks, tests, contact tracing and ventilators.
On Wednesday, commenting on the
new government guidelines, Raoult said, “When damage to the lungs is too
important, and patients arrive for reanimation, they practically do not harbor
viruses in their bodies any more. It’s too late to treat them with chloroquine.
Are these the only cases – the very serious cases – that will be treated with
chloroquine under the new directive by [French Health Minister] Veran?” If so,
he added ironically, “then they will be able to say with scientific certainty
that chloroquine does not work.”
Raoult was unavailable for comment
on Western news media articles citing
Chinese test results that would suggest he is wrong about the efficacy of
chloroquine in dealing with mild cases of Covid-19.
Staffers pointed instead to his
comments in the IHU bulletin. There Raoult says it’s “insulting” to ask if we
can trust the Chinese on the use of chloroquine. “If this was an American
disease, and the president of the United States said, ‘We need to treat
patients with that,’ nobody would discuss it.”
In China, he adds, there were
“enough elements so the Chinese government and all Chinese experts who know
coronaviruses took an official position that ‘we must treat with chloroquine.’
Between the moment when we have the first results and an accepted international
publication, there is no credible alternative among people who are the most
knowledgeable in the world. They took this measure in the interest of public
Crucially: if he had
coronavirus, Raoult says he would take chloroquine. Since Raoult is rated by
his peers as the number one world expert in
communicable diseases, way above Dr. Anthony Fauci in the US, I would say the
new reports represent Big Pharma talking.
Raoult has been mercilessly savaged and demonized by French corporate
media that are controlled by a few oligarchs closely linked to Macronism. Not by
accident the demonization has reached gilets jaunes (yellow vest) levels,
especially because of the extremely popular hashtag #IlsSavaient (“They knew”),
with which the yellow vests stress that French elites have “managed” the
Covid-19 crisis by protecting themselves while leaving the population
defenseless against the virus.
That ties in with the
controversial analysis by crack philosopher Giorgio Agamben in a column published a month ago,
where he was already arguing that Covid-19 clearly shows that the state of exception –
similar to a state of emergency but with differences important to philosophers
– has become fully normalized in the West.
Agamben was speaking not as a
doctor or a virologist but as a master thinker, following in the steps of
Foucault, Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt. Noting how a latent state of fear
has metastasized into a state of collective panic, for which Covid-19 “offers
once again the ideal pretext,” he described how, “in a perverse vicious circle,
the limitation of freedom imposed by governments is accepted in the name of a
desire for security that was induced by the same governments that now intervene
to satisfy it.”
There was no state of collective panic in South Korea, Singapore,
Taiwan and Vietnam – to mention four Asian examples outside of China. A dogged
combination of mass testing and contact tracing was applied with immense
professionalism. It worked. In the Chinese case, with the help of chloroquine.
And in all Asian cases, without a murky profit motive to the benefit of Big
There hasn’t yet appeared the smoking gun that proves the Macron system
not only is incompetent to deal with Covid-19 but also is dragging the process
so Big Pharma can come up with a miracle vaccine, fast. But the pattern to
discourage chloroquine is more than laid out above – in parallel to the
demonization of Raoult.
from Asia Times by
permission of author or representative)