Paul Marik: COVID Quack or Pandemic Hero?

Dr. Paul Marik

by James A. Bacon

Across the state of Virginia, the fatality rate for COVID-19 patients entering hospitals has been 37.7%. Put another way, nearly two of every five patients died, according to Virginia Department of Health data. But in Norfolk, only 25.8% died. What accounts for that disparity? One possibility is that the dominant hospital in Norfolk is Sentara General Hospital… which is affiliated with the Eastern Virginia Medical School… where Dr. Paul Marik, an EVMS professsor, may have co-developed an inexpensive but highly effective treatment for COVID-19.

Marik is virtually unknown to Virginians. The only local news story I could find about him, dated about a week ago, tells how he was reprimanded by the Virginia Board of Medicine for prescribing controlled substances to five people who were not his patients. That article noted only in passing that Marik has written more than 400 peer-reviewed journal articles, 50 book chapters, and four books about critical care, and that he has developed a new treatment for sepsis.

You will get a very different picture of the 63-year-old South African native by reading, “The Drug that Cracked COVID,” written by Michael Capuzzo and published in Mountain Home, a Pennsylvania magazine. Other than to say that Capuzzo obviously did an enormous amount of research for the article, I cannot testify to its fairness, balance or accuracy. But from a surface reading, the reporting seems credible enough that Marik’s story at least warrants telling.

Marik and four U.S. colleagues who are experts in critical care developed an early treatment protocol for COVID-19 centered on the generic drug Ivermectin they dubbed I-MASK. If the article is to be believed, the protocol has saved millions of lives in poor, developing countries desperate for affordable ways to respond to the pandemic. But the protocol, developed through trial and error in front lines of hospital treatment, did not meet the gold standard of randomized clinical trials demanded by COVID guru Anthony Fauci, the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and Big Pharma. With the active cooperation of the masters of the media/social media universe, the “follow the science” crowd has worked to suppress the findings of Marik and his colleagues.

I reproduce lengthy passages from the article, but they tell only part of the tale. I I urge you to read the full article — be warned, it is lengthy — and decide for yourself if Marik, a Virginian, is a huckster of the highest order or one of modern medical science’s greatest heroes.

Capuzzo commences the article by telling the story of an elderly Buffalo, N.Y. resident, Judy Smentkiewicz: how she contracted COVID in March 2020, deteriorated, and entered the hospital with the bleakest of prospects.

As Judy lay dying in the small hospital eight miles northeast of Buffalo, almost six hundred miles south in Norfolk, Virginia, Dr. Paul Marik, sixty-three, the endowed professor at the Eastern Virginia Medical School and a world-renowned clinician-researcher, was unknowingly preparing to save her life with a “wonder drug” that obliterates COVID-19. Discovering the drug was one thing, but getting it to Judy’s doctors in time to save her, getting it to the many thousands of people who needed it, would be a harrowing journey. …

Marik was accustomed to beating the odds. The legendary professor, a 6-foot, 230-pound, balding, barrel-chested, bear of a man with a crisp native South African accent touched with the South after thirty years, is the second most published critical care doctor in the history of medicine, with more than 500 peer-reviewed papers and books, 43,000 scholarly citations of his work, and a research “H” rating higher than many Nobel Prize winners. Marik is world famous as creator of the “Marik Cocktail,” a revolutionary cocktail of cheap, safe, generic, FDA-approved drugs that dramatically reduces death rates from sepsis by 20 to 50 percent anywhere in the world—whether you’re in a hospital in Zurich or Zimbabwe, Chicago or Chengdu—down to near zero, when given soon after presentation to hospitals. Since he published what he calls the “HAT Therapy” (Hydrocortisone, Ascorbic Acid [intravenous Vitamin C] and Thiamine) in 2016 in the most prestigious peer-reviewed journal in the field, Marik has received worldwide publicity, is celebrated in James Bond Internet memes with the “Marik Cocktail” shaken, not stirred, and is seen in ICUs around the globe as a historic figure in medicine for improving care of sepsis, which last year passed cancer and heart disease as the world’s number one killer, according to Lancet. Marik, known as a quirky genius and an exceptionally kind-hearted doctor (his most published peer in the annals of medicine doesn’t see patients), has been searching for an effective treatment for COVID-19 since it began.

Now, while Judy’s doctors were stumped, he was spending long days and nights at the Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, a large, 563-bed teaching hospital on the EVMS campus, where Marik, head of pulmonology and critical care, was treating hundreds of critically ill COVID-19 patients, many referred to him from all over the 1.8-million population Hampton Roads region.

The pandemic had pushed him to nights doing Zoom grand rounds and making YouTube videos instructing doctors and hospitals all over the world on treating COVID-19, sending out a daily EVMS COVID-19 Management Protocol online for doctors worldwide, and hunting the literature for the “wonder drug” that would save Judy Smentkiewicz and bring the pandemic to an end.

[Marik] was startled and appalled that all the national and international public health agencies recommended that the most well-trained, well-equipped doctors in history stand down and wait on big pharma’s lab scientists while the worst pandemic in a century devastated the world. “It’s therapeutic nihilism to say that doctors can do nothing,” Marik said. “Supportive care is no care at all.” What Marik did was assemble four of his closest friends, who also happen to be four of the top academic critical care doctors in the world. He challenged them to join him in an expert panel to continually review the literature while treating their COVID-19 patients and developing treatment protocols—low-cost generic therapies that countless black and brown and poor people all over the world would need, he saw from the beginning, or face a coming catastrophe without treatments or vaccines.

Marik’s collaborators included Pierre Kory, a critical care service chief at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Gianfranco Umberto Meduri with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, Jose Iglesia at the Hackensack Meredian School of Medicine in New Jersey, and Joseph Varon at the University of Texas Health Science Center. They quickly established that it wasn’t the COVID-19 virus that was killing people but a hyper-immune response that unleashed multi-organ inflammation and clotting.

From the beginning of the pandemic, the hospitals that Marik and Varon led had COVID-19 beat. They achieved remarkably high survival rates at their hospitals at a time when 40 to 80 percent of patients in the U.S. and Europe were dying from the disease. Their success was achieved with the group’s now-famous MATH+ protocol for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

The cocktail of safe, cheap, FDA-approved generic drugs—the steroid Methylprednisolone, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Thiamine (Vitamin B1), and the blood thinner Heparin—was the first comprehensive treatment using aggressive corticosteroid and anti-coagulant treatments to stop COVID-19 deaths. Both were novel approaches strongly recommended against by all national and international health care agencies throughout the world, but later studies made both therapies the global standard of hospital care. In addition, Kory, Marik, et. al published the first comprehensive COVID-19 prevention and early treatment protocol (which they would eventually call I-MASK). It is centered around the drug Ivermectin, which President Trump used at Walter Reed hospital, unreported by the press, though it may well have saved the president’s life while he was instead touting new big pharma drugs.

Invermectin, an FDA-approved anti-parasitic drug, had been repurposed for use against COVID-19 and showed remarkable anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties.

Well-designed university trials … showed amazing anti-COVID-19 activity at the normal doses used to treat parasites. Though small and endlessly diverse by large, Western big pharma “one-size-fits all” random control trials, the Ivermectin studies were a mosaic of hundreds of scientists and many thousands of patients in trials all over the world, all showing the same remarkable efficacy against all phases of COVID-19 no matter what dose or age or severity of the patient. “Penicillin never was randomized,” Marik says. “It just obviously worked. Ivermectin obviously works.”

Marik was astonished. “If you were to say, tell me the characteristics of a perfect drug to treat COVID-19, what would you ask for?” he said. “I think you would ask firstly for something that’s safe, that’s cheap, that’s readily available, and has anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. People would say, “That’s ridiculous. There could not possibly be a drug that has all of those characteristics. That’s just unreasonable. But we do have such a drug. The drug is called Ivermectin.”

If it was universally distributed at a dose that costs ten American cents in India and about the cost of a Big Mac in the United States, he said, Ivermectin would save countless lives, crush variants, eliminate the need for endless big pharma booster shots, and end the pandemic all over the world. …

The data from twenty-seven studies, sixteen of them randomized controlled trials, demonstrated, with highly statistically significant, overwhelmingly positive, consistent, and reproducible rates, that people who got sick with COVID-19 were far more likely to quickly get better at home when they took Ivermectin. They didn’t go to the hospital. Housemates of people with COVID-19 who took Ivermectin didn’t get infected. People who got moderately ill in hospitals didn’t go to the ICU; they got better quicker and went home faster. Hospitals didn’t get overrun. The drug even saved elderly, critically ill COVID-19 patients from dying compared to those routinely dying elsewhere. Six prevention studies showed Ivermectin reduced the risk of getting COVID-19 by 92.5 percent, superior to many vaccines.

One of the doctors confirming the efficacy of the Ivermectin-based cocktail was David Chesler in Charlottesville with hundreds of COVID-19 patients in six nursing homes. He wrote Anthony Fauci telling him that he had found the early treatment the nation was looking for.

Dr. Chesler explained that facing the choice with his elderly COVID-19 patients to “either provide my patients with the standard of care, basically first aid, with Tylenol, oxygen and monitoring, until they became sick enough to be sent to the hospital, or to try something more proactive with the hope of the patients not becoming so ill and then losing their lives,” he had since successfully treated “over 200 high-risk COVID patients” with Ivermectin, many over 100 years old, with none dying or needing “heroic” oxygen support. Fauci never replied.

The public health establishment had no interest in the findings.

The WHO, NIH, and other public health agencies were suddenly recommending only COVID-19 therapies proven by the “gold standard” of large randomized controlled trials of treatment and placebo groups, which were powerful but had several limiting flaws, including the fact that they took months to complete and cost ten to twenty million dollars that only big pharmaceutical companies could afford. They had thrown out all the other time-tested forms of clinical and scientific medical investigation still taught in all the medical schools, such as observational trials (which had eliminated widespread crib death), case histories, and anecdotes. They also restricted the use of essential off-label and generic drugs with blatant disinformation campaigns that reminded Kory of big tobacco’s efforts to hide the dangers of smoking. In effect, the public health authorities eliminated the full toolbox of essential scientific methods and drugs that doctors use every day, including the most effective early, prophylactic, and late-stage treatments for COVID-19, which were developed by frontline doctors, not pharmaceutical companies. …

In the new world of medicine, the COVID world, Kory says, “Only big randomized controlled trials by big pharma/big academic medical centers are accepted by big journals, while others are rejected,” while only studies in big journals are accepted by big public health agencies for drug recommendations, and only drugs recommended by big public health agencies “escape media/social media censorship.”

In the hyper-politicized environment of Washington, D.C., Democrats and their media acolytes dismissed the Ivermectin advocates as QAnon-like anti-science kooks promoting “fringe theories.” Even as Ivermectin was saving tens of thousands of lives in South America, the Associated Press proclaimed that “there’s no evidence Ivermectin has been proven a safe or effective treatment against COVID-19.”

Yet… the Ivermectin cocktail did continue spreading to countries that lack the resources to vaccinate their populations and, if Marik and his associates are to be believed, has saved millions of lives. Either Marik is a dangerous quack or he deserves the Nobel Prize. Time will tell.