Darryl is a businessman and a post-graduate student in Philosophy at the University of Auckland, with particular interests in the philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, epistemology, logic, and AI. He holds a BSc in Computer Science and a BA in Philosophy, Logic and Computation.
A September 6th letter posted on the web site of New Zealand government agency Pharmac, from Dr. Bryan Betty, the Medical Director of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP) , said this:
“…it is very important to note that at this point there is no evidence that supports the use of this medicine in the treatment of COVID-19.” [my emphasis]
The letter – which constitutes guidance to all New Zealand doctors – appears to be one of the key justifications for the NZ government ignoring Ivermectin as a treatment for Covid-19, and for discouraging, and possibly punishing, doctors for prescribing it. To be charitable to Dr. Betty the government was ignoring Ivermectin long before September 6th 2021 so he may not be the only reason for a public health failure that may have cost many lives worldwide and may yet cost more lives.
Dr. Betty’s view appeared to be parroting the conclusion of the Cochrane report which is one of only a very small number of other documents posted on the site. Yet the Cochrane report dismissal of any evidence for Ivermectin has been analysed and found severely lacking by medical evidence expert Dr. Tess Lawrie and the BIRD Group in the UK. For example, according to the BIRD Group “The Cochrane paper excluded so many studies it rendered itself powerless. It used 4 out of 24 available studies.” .
Those who have been following the saga of Ivermectin will know that Dr. Tess Lawrie and many other doctors and scientists all over the world believe there to be overwhelming evidence for the safety and effectiveness of Ivermectin for the prevention and early treatment of Covid-19. According to the BIRD Group, “63 studies, of them 31 Randomised Controlled Trials (RCT), 7 meta-analyses, 32 Observational Controlled Trials(OCT), multiple country case studies, expert opinion, patient testimony ALL pointing in favour of the medication” .
Yet 18 months since Ivermectin first showed significant promise at Monash University in Australia, and after compelling results from subsequent real-world deployments of the drug, Dr. Bryan Betty claims emphatically that there is “no evidence” for its effectiveness and discourages its use. To be fair, he is not the only one. We have seen similar behaviour in the medical authorities in Australia, the US, and in many other countries.
Today, I went to check the Pharmac website and found that although the link still exists, the letter it references has been removed from the RNZCGP website .
Obviously, I cannot reference Dr. Betty’s letter since it has now been removed. That removal in itself is a cause for concern.
I searched the RNZCGP website and only found one entry on Ivermectin , which contains content similar to what was in the letter, but no mention of Dr. Betty’s name, and no sign of the letter itself.
My interpretation of this is that Dr. Betty is aware that he is potentially in very serious trouble and wishes to hide his involvement. Unfortunately for Dr. Betty the internet has a long memory and there are many people now aware of his influential role in the suppression of Ivermectin in New Zealand.
UPDATE 26th November 2021:
On the day this article was published on The BFD, a reader provided the following screen capture from a Google web page cache:
This is not the letter from Dr. Bryan Betty, however, it is an article about that letter. You can clearly see the same sentence quoted at the top of my article. GPPulse is part of the RNZCGP website . The article in the image above also appears to have been removed, and a search of GPPulse with key word “Ivermectin” returns no results.
I always try to be charitable, and one thing I did not mention in the original of this article is another possible interpretation of the disappearance of the letter.
One is that they have decided to change their stance on Ivermectin. However, there are several problems with this. Firstly, why would they leave a broken link on the Pharmac website? The link remained broken for at least 2 days so it wasn’t just unlucky timing. Also, if their position changed why would they need to remove the existing article and letter – surely they would just issue a more recent advisory that supersedes it. Furthermore, it is consistent with evidence-based medicine that you keep historical records, not simply delete information (both the letter and the article about the letter). So a change of heart by RNZCGP doesn’t seem likely to me.
However the plot thickens, as I have just checked again today, and this time the Pharmac link is working again!
However the link now points to the article shown in the image above – which has mysteriously reappeared in place of the original letter . I pulled the quote from the letter about 18 days ago – so the letter disappeared some time after that and the article reappeared in the last 24 hours since my article was published.
So what are we to make of this? Is it purely a bureaucratic bungle by Pharmac and RNZCGP, or did Dr. Betty realise he was busted and decided to “double down” by reinstating the article (but not apparently the letter itself)? Whatever the explanation it does not look like RNZCGP has changed its position on Ivermectin – although possibly Dr. Betty is no longer comfortable having a letter signed by himself publicly available. The article contains direct quotes attributed to Dr. Betty, but there does not seem to be a link to the letter itself.
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