A potential Covid-19 treatment has become hostage to a larger global fight between populists and anti-populists
On December 31st of last year, an 80 year-old Buffalo-area woman named Judith Smentkiewicz fell ill with Covid-19. She was rushed by ambulance to Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital in Williamsville, New York, where she was put on a ventilator. Her son Michael and his wife flew up from Georgia, and were given grim news. Judith, doctors said, had a 20% chance at survival, and even if she made it, she’d be on a ventilator for a month.
As December passed into the New Year, Judith’s health declined. Her family members, increasingly desperate, had been doing what people in the Internet age do, Googling in search of potential treatments. They saw stories about the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin, learning among other things that a pulmonologist named Pierre Kory had just testified before the Senate that the drug had a “miraculous” impact on Covid-19 patients. The family pressured doctors at the hospital to give Judith the drug. The hospital initially complied, administering one dose on January 2nd. According to her family’s court testimony, a dramatic change in her condition ensued.