At first, I thought about using the original photo to open this editorial but, in fact, all of the snake oil cures started with Trump’s assertion that hydroxychloroquine could cure COVID-19. He promoted this against all known scientific evidence to the contrary, and all the while he and his administration deliberately sullied the reputation of actual scientists and doctors, most notably Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx.The result was the deliberate mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of this writing, 711,020 people are dead in this nation. We have surpassed the number of people who died here from the 1918 flu pandemic, and this is not over yet. Donald J. Trump is culpable in all of these deaths, and so are his political minions who interfered with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for political gain, and right-wing followers, who promoted his false narratives on social media to increase their “hits” and build their following.
The right wing has been dumbing-down American society for a while now, and it seems that the cycle is damned near complete. Americans can only deal with short-term messages now. The shorter the better. And if these messages tell you what to think land who you should be “following”, that’s even better. It makes it even easier for a society that has forgotten what research (aka, looking shit up) is and performing basic skills like how to read. That’s why memes are so prevalent. When I write a comment on, say, Facebook, often the response from those actually taking the time to read it is a…meme. I tolerate memes. I am a very occasional user, and I very rarely save any of them for future use. I find them part of the decay of our thought processes. Short, sweet bursts of what is considered genius in some cultures (mostly American) with no actual facts attached to them. Visual. Colorful. Cartoony is even better.
Donald Trump and the thugs and reality TV show outcasts he brought to Washington with him became the nail in the coffin for thinking America. As I said, the great American brainwashing had been going on for a while, but Trump put the dumbing-down on turbo. The same people who brought you ‘climate change is fake’ also brought you ‘COVID-19 is fake’ or it’s ‘just an upper respiratory infection’ or ‘more people will die from the vaccine’. Every fucking event in America is now a major conspiracy involving literally thousands of perpetrators. I hate to burst your bubble, but these people simply aren’t clever enough to run an operation like that, but that doesn’t stop America from buying in. The more ridiculously outrageous the premise, the more true it is. Not to worry, you also won’t need any actual evidence to convince the American people. All you need are social media ‘influencers’ and ‘thought leaders’. Americans love that shit. It’s cool to think Russell Brand has all the answers. And what about Joe Rogan? Whoever thought that a second-rate stand-up comedian could be the new font of all knowledge? But I digress. I’m just trying to show you why we are where we are.
The anti-vax movement really gains steam
The anti-vax movement is a perfect example of what happens when you listen to messiahs. There are plenty out there on social media,, and every one is a parasite with something to gain. They made you actually think that there’s something happening to your medical freedom. There isn’t. For years school systems have required physical examinations and proof of immunization for kids returning to school in September. I did it for grammar, middle and high school for two kids. Never did I think I was relinquishing my medical freedom or that of my children. I see it as public health, a concept barely understood by the narcissistic. I don’t want to expose other people’s kids to illness, and I don’t believe anyone should expose my children. It’s a simple equation for me. I worry about the real liberties being taking away while they’re keeping you busy on this absolute bullshit.
All of the vaccine phobia started with a viper named Andrew Wakefield, a disgraced doctor from the UK who just about breached every ethical boundary on his way to demonizing the MMR vaccine and linking it to autism. His entire premise was a scam, his research was fraudulent, and he lied about how he obtained his research patients. He also failed to report that he had a patent on his own measles vaccine, and that he was being paid handsomely by a law firm to develop research that proved the MMR-autism link for a pending legal action. Wakefield was exposed by a relentless investigative journalist named Brian Deer. The result was retraction of Wakefield’s paper. He was also stripped of his medical license in the UK. It was off to the United States for Wakefield.
Rather than Americans questioning science because of what Wakefield did, they embraced him as a hero. Andrew Wakefield became the persecuted truther even though more than twenty studies around the world attempting to confirm his premise of the link between MMR and autism came up dry. That wasn’t any kind of proof to his true believers, though, who immediately decided that Wakefield’s research was being repressed to protect the pharmaceutical industry. Along comes the perfect storm: the Trump administration and COVID-19. It was like pouring gasoline on a bonfire.
We add a new snake oil remedy to the arsenal
This was perfect for the extreme right-wing who saw an opportunity to parlay America’s growing disbelief in science and vaccines into something big with COVID-19. Everyone who has amplified this vaccine phobia had something to gain whether it was becoming a YouTube star, selling snake oil remedies or supplements, gaining political capital, or all of the above at once. You see ample evidence of all here in this very website (which I realize I also linked above for good reason). These opportunists had a captive audience of true believers in QAnon, the supposed YouTube doctors who are anything but experts in the field, and conspiracy theorists who have spouted every known theory about COVID-19 from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Trump saw the COVID-19 pandemic as a disruption of his political climb, an impediment to his reelection. He believed he was in the driver’s seat on his way to term number two when the pandemic hit. He was determined to use everything in his power to turn COVID-19 from a liability into a political advantage. It didn’t stop with snake-oil remedies either.
When you have a world leader (and I use that term loosely in the Trumpian context) touting the likes of Dr. Stella Immanuel, a Nigerian-educated huckster who provides a treasure trove of medical misinformation on COVID-19 and who also preaches from the same strip mall where she has her medical office, you know you’re in trouble. Immanuel is also one of America’s Frontline Doctors, a group of grifting snake oil salesmen who haven’t been on the front lines of a damn thing except sowing fear, uncertainty and doubt throughout this entire pandemic. While Simone Gold — the de facto leader of AFD — is actually a doctor, she is also a very well-connected political operative tied to the Tea Party Patriots, who fund America’s Frontline Doctors. Gold was also arrested at the January 6 insurrection.
The snake oil regimen started with hydroxychloroquine, then moved to Ivermectin, a de-wormer initially made for horses and livestock. Some people become indignant when say this, but the truth is often unpleasant. Yes. There are oral and topical forms of Ivermectin for human use. It is approved by the FDA for very specific applications: parasitic roundworm infections like ascariasis and head lice, and for skin conditions like rosacea. Period. End of story. It is not proven to prevent or cure COVID-19, and is neither approved nor recommended for treating COVID-19 outside of clinical trials for such applications, which have been ongoing and have shown little to no efficacy for COVID-19.
Now we’re in full-on lunacy
The graduates of Facebook Medical School and the Twitter University of Public Health have continued with incredible medical breakthroughs to help you avoid those nasty vaccines (aka The Mark of The Beast for some). These miraculous cures must come to them in dreams because there’s actually not one shred of any real scientific or medical evidence that the shit they are promoting works. Betadine is one of these miracle remedies promoted to the public with a video on Facebook and Twitter by an alleged doctor. At the bottom of the video in Thai, no less, he proclaimed that gargling with Betadine prevented COVID-19 from entering the lungs. Apparently gargling wasn’t enough for some anti-vaxers who also decided that ingesting it would be a good thing. Continuing on with miracle cures, the most recent is one I discovered on the Twitter University of Public Health (see below).
Yes, get yourself a nebulizer and inhale food-grade hydrogen peroxide. Hell, Dr. Mercola actually gives you the procedure on BitChute, a vast right-wing cesspool of utter racism, LGBTQ hate, and medical misinformation masquerading as “free speech”, the great new American cause celebre. Dr. Mercola is one of the most virulent purveyors of medical misinformation, yet has managed to earn over $100 million dollars from the clueless American public by selling supplements and other sketchy “health” products that cure everything from cancer to COVID-19 (without actually providing any medical or scientific evidence that they do any such thing). In fact, Mercola has made so much money selling supplements that he’s not even an osteopath anymore. He just sells snake oil online now.
The reference to Dr. Klinghardt in the above Twitter photo is none other than the Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt who was put on probation for three years by the New Mexico Board of Medical Examiners. You can get all the information you need about the illustrious Dr. Klingardt right here on Quackwatch. Before using Briotech in a nebulizer (or anything else suggested by this quack), I’d contact a legitimate doctor for advice. Of course, you should know that Dr. Klinghardt has a booming online sketchy health and supplement business called BioPure, and he sells Briotech on his website. Go figure.
The “chronic disease” front is a great way to make money. Not only does Dr. Klinghardt have an online supplement business, but he also runs the Sophia Health Institute, where he can fleece those desperately ill with symptoms in search of a legitimate disease. Sometimes good Samaritans donate money to desperate people who cannot afford the expensive “alternative treatments” without checking out the doctors or the treatment involved. While Dr. Klinghardt is best known for his quack treatments for Lyme Disease, that doesn’t stop him from giving you a complete regimen for preventing and fighting COVID-19, none of which has ever been tested to see if the regimen even works, or if any of the ingredients he suggests in his witches’ brew does anything against COVID-19. But hell, why worry? None of the anti-vax set has any belief in science to begin with.
In closing, it’s amazing to me that people who put their faith in quacks and their unproven, sometimes even dangerous, treatments and medicines in an effort to avoid vaccines believe that those of us who follow actual science and data are the ones who are paranoid. I suggest to you that it’s the other way around.