Over the last few weeks, I’ve been following a blog by a family practice physician, Dr. David Brownstein, on his experiences treating individuals with Covid-19. I became especially intrigued by an April 12 posting: “My colleagues and I have treated almost 100 patients who were diagnosed with COVID or had COVID-like symptoms. At this time, our patients were doing well. No one has been hospitalized, no one has been diagnosed with pneumonia, and there have been no fatalities. We have spent the past 25 years preparing for this moment, and we were ready!”

Dr. David Brownstein

What made the blog especially compelling were a number of videos of the patients who were recovering from Covid-19. I watched two, with women who appeared to be in their 60s or 70s—one had gone to the hospital with breathing problems, and consulted Dr. Brownstein as her condition worsened. Both women said they had pretty much recovered after using Dr. Brownstein’s vitamin and nebulizer regimens.  Dr. Brownstein, a man who appears to be in his sixties, conducted the interviews gently, clearly not prodding the patients in a particular direction, several times cautioning that he wasn’t recommending a particular course of treatment for those watching the video. He never once alluded to the supplements sold on his site. 

Here’s how Brownstein introduced another video on the blog (which I didn’t watch): “Check out my interview with COVID patient, Brandon, who is a paramedic. He experienced fatigue, body aches, high fever, followed by a shortness of breath. Hear Brandon’s testimonial on his progress after administering to himself a Super C IV, followed by supplementation.”

I write about these in the past tense because Dr. Brownstein was ordered by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last week to remove the blog’s information, including the videos, from his website

In a message on the site of his Center for Holistic Medicine in Michigan, he states that “we have been ordered by the FTC to stop making any statements about our treatment protocols of Vitamins A, C and D as well as nutritional IV’s, iodine, ozone and nebulization to support the immune system with respect to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).”

To avoid possible legal action and penalties, Dr. Brownstein stated, “I will not be able to blog, post, tweet, email, etc. for a while. I want you to know that CHM is NOT closing.” 

Dr. Brownstein seems to have been caught up in a bureaucratic dragnet by the FTC targeting dozens of health care providers, according to the National Law Review. “For example, in one warning letter, the FTC identified the following claim as an example of impermissible claims being made: ‘[A] lot of us are worried about getting the virus and since a vaccine has yet to be developed we’re going to have to rely on our good-old immune system to keep us healthy.’ The FTC warned that a company must possess ‘competent and reliable scientific evidence’ to advertise that a product can prevent, treat, or cure human disease. No study is currently known to exist supporting the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 for any of the products identified in these warning letters, so none of the claims are permissible, and the companies were ordered to immediately cease making the claims.”

I only have the blog posts I quoted from above, along with some additional ones, because I decided to save material from his blog, on the off chance he was forced to remove information. I really didn’t think that was likely because, as the National Law Review noted, it’s not as if there are all kinds of competing treatments for Covid-19– there is basically nothing, so what objection could they have to a holistic approach? 

Plus, he has impressive professional credentials—he’s a board certified family practice physician. Yes, he’s gotten into skirmishes with other docs over his warnings against vaccination. One doc who went to Wayne State University Medical School, like Dr. Brownstein, raked him over the coals several years ago because of his holistic approach. But there was nothing on his Covid-19-related blog posts about vaccination. 

A few of his blog statements were self promotional, like this one in April: “Hear our stories about the success we have had using natural supplements, IV therapies, and nebulization to treat our patients. If you are interested in scheduling a COVID Consult by phone please email us at: CHMCovidConsult@gmail.com

Yet weeks before Dr. Brownstein was making that statement, the president of the United States was claiming that two commercial drugs long used to treat malaria “could be game changers” in treating Covid-19. Hospitals immediately began testing the drugs on patients. By mid-April, they were found to be ineffective in treating Covid-19.

Brownstein wasn’t even recommending drugs, but rather naturally occurring vitamins and over-the-counter combinations of nutrients. Moreover, there have been studies suggesting some of the nutrients, like vitamins C and D, could be helpful to Covid-19 patients. 

Yet Brownstein was forced to scrub all his information. The president? His stuff stays online and recently he’s been pushing for rapid development of a vaccine against Covid-19, even if it might be unsafe. 

What’s going on here? Why would the regulators come after an MD suggesting his patients use common vitamins, and broadcasting interviews with patients who have had favorable experiences recovering from Covid-19? I know there are those who will immediately take this as another sign of the vast conspiracy, “deep state,” and similar. 

Surely the long-standing bias by both the medical establishment and government regulators against natural remedies of any kind is at work here. But beyond that, I see the campaign against Brownstein and others as yet another sign of the ever-more-toxic mix of science and politics that has accompanied the pandemic. For much of February and into mid-March, the president waved off the dangers of the pandemic, predicting “it’s going to disappear.” He has promoted an extremely aggressive campaign, “Operation Warp Speed,” to develop a vaccine against Covid-19, way faster than any previous vaccine. And apparently because of fears about “bad numbers,” the administration continues to hinder efforts to expand testing for the coronavirus; most recently, the FDA put the kibosh on a Seattle-area project funded in large measure by Microsoft founder Bill Gates to expand testing. Was that because many Trump supporters see him as part of a pro-vaccine conspiracy? Who knows. Members of the administration are said to own medical companies in line to benefit from federal spending on Covid-19 vaccines

Here is how an analysis on Stat, a highly respected online science publication, put it today: “The Trump administration has systematically dismantled the executive branch’s science infrastructure and rejected the role of science to inform policy, essentially reversing both Republican and Democrat presidential administrations since World War II, when Vannevar Bush, an engineer, advised Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. 

“President Trump’s pursuit of anti-science policy has been so effective that as the first cases of Covid-19 were breaking out in Wuhan, China, no meaningful science policy infrastructure was in place to advise him. As a consequence, America is suffering from a pandemic without a plan. Our responses are ineffectual and inconsistent. We are increasingly divided by misinformation and invidious messaging. And it’s not even over.” 

And among the “collateral damage” in this toxic mixture of science and politics will be ordinary people unable to access potentially useful information of the type offered by Dr. Brownstein.