“I don’t think we should manage crises through fear”.Prof. Dr. Didier Raoult, during an interview (16 April 2021) on BFMTV witgh Bruce Toussaint
“Who is this guy?” I asked myself on 22 March 2020, the day I first discovered Professor Didier Raoult through a video sent to me by a fellow general practitioner.
The video in question: “Diagnose and treat, first results for chloroquine”. I am intrigued by this atypical doctor, far from imagining what would happen next. We are now at the very beginning of the “Covid 19 pandemic” and I am trying, as best I can, to see a little more clearly in the fog of information that is arriving at an accelerating pace and that will, little by little, define what will certainly be the greatest media/health/political/societal event of the 21st century.
Who is Didier Raoult?
He was born on 13 March 1952 in Dakar, Senegal (35), the son of a military doctor and a nurse. In 1961 the Raoults moved to Marseille. In high school, Didier was a poor student and left for two years to work on liners and merchant ships.
- In 1972 he passed a literary baccalaureate as a free candidate and then enrolled in the Faculty of Medicine in Marseille without having any particular vocation. These were simply the only studies his father was willing to finance.
- In 1981 he obtained his State Diploma of Doctor of Medicine, a diploma in tropical medicine and a certificate of advanced studies in clinical bacteriology and virology. He is therefore an infectious disease specialist, as was his maternal great-grandfather. After a period in the United States, he obtained two certifications in Atlanta, one on the principles of epidemiology and the other on the control of the spread of transmissible diseases.
- In 1984 he became a specialist in internal medicine in France.
- In 1985 he also completed a state doctorate in human biology as part of his secondary biology course.
- In 1986, he became a lecturer and two years later a professor.
- He was appointed President of the University of Aix-Marseille in 1994 at the age of 42.
- In 1995, he was awarded the title of professor of the first class and then the grade of professor of exceptional class, 1st step, in 2000, and 2nd step in 2003.
Just by recalling this background we can state unequivocally that Professor Raoult knows what he is talking about when he speaks about viruses and infectious diseases in general. All the more so as he is at the origin of major discoveries, including that of giant viruses (girus), the identification of more than a hundred new pathogenic bacteria, two of which bear his name (Raoulella planticola, Rickettsia raoulti).
- In 2002, he was in charge of the mission on bioterrorism at the Ministry of Health.
- In 2003, he submitted a report to the Minister of Health, Mr Mattei, in which he recommended the creation of the IHU, which would bring together patient care, teaching, research and the production of medicines within the same structure.
- Raoult suggests the idea of a barrier of infectiopoles, including the IHU Infection Méditerranée in Marseille, created in 2012, of which he becomes the director. The researchers there produce 700 international publications per year.
Why then, despite his fame and his exemplary academic career, do many French media seem to denigrate his opinions as an expert in infectious diseases and even seriously tarnish the image of a man who is nevertheless rigorously at the service of his patients and of medical research?
Raoult fervently defends Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ)
From the beginning of the ‘Covid pandemic’19 Raoult denounced media exaggeration of the impact of the new virus detected in Wuhan . His clear statements, which went against the grain of the media machine, provoked controversy and even anger among some, to the point of questioning his professional competence.
It is, among other things, the video that I was forwarded in March 2020 on hydroxychloroquine, which will trigger a real campaign of decredibilisation and even defamation against it. At that time, Raoult advocated hydroxychloroquine, a cheap molecule with few side effects, traditionally used to combat malaria, combined with azithromycin to effectively treat patients with the new SARS CoV 2 coronavirus [3;4].
This treatment is based on a study by the Chinese pneumologist Zhong Nanshan . It was then that Olivier Véran, the French Minister of Health, based himself on fake news (the Lancet Gate affair) propagated by all the media, to openly cast doubt on hydroxychloroquine and Raoult . A veritable media lynch mob then began with the aim of silencing Raoult by any means necessary.
The promising studies of the Marseille IHU
On 16 March 2020, the preliminary results of a first study on 24 patients were announced . These are the results of the therapeutic protocol learned in China, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and azithromycin (AZ). This study was criticised by the media “experts” who pointed to methodological errors. (In particular, the lack of a control group to compare with the group treated in the study, a method that is difficult to carry out in the absolute emergency of the pandemic).
The next day the French government declared the first containment. Raoult did not understand this decision, made it loud and clear, and distanced himself from the Covid Scientific Council19 . On 22 March, Raoult’s team announced that it would offer all infected patients a treatment combining hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, outside the AMM (marketing authorisation). Indeed, the French High Council for Public Health (HCSP) recommends not using this molecule in the context of Covid19, with the exception of serious hospitalised cases.
On 10 April 2020, the results of a second study  were published, still using the same therapeutic protocol, with no serious side effects. According to the Marseille IHU, the results were convincing. Enough, in any case, to arouse the interest of the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, who travelled in person to Marseille to visit Professor Raoult.
“The combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, when started immediately after diagnosis, is a safe and effective treatment for Covid19, with a mortality rate of 0.5%,” says Professor Raoult. According to him, this treatment “avoids complications and eliminates the persistence of the virus and contagiousness in most cases”.
Of the 1061 patients monitored, a “good clinical outcome” and “virological cure” was achieved within ten days in 973 (91.7%). Only one group of 47 patients (4.4%) was still infected with the virus at the end of the treatment, but all but one tested negative after 15 days. Finally, a “poor clinical outcome” was observed in 46 patients (4.3%): five died (0.47%), 10 were transferred to intensive care units, and 31 had to be hospitalised for at least ten days. The study states that at this point, 98% of the patients followed were cured. Professor Raoult’s team notes that the poor clinical outcomes observed in some patients are associated with age (the five people who died were aged between 74 and 95 years), a more severe initial clinical condition, or the use of certain drugs.
To the criticism and questioning of his detractors, Raoult replies that he is a researcher and not a commentator on the results of clinical studies. Among other things, he is still criticised for not having a control group to compare the results of participants who received his therapeutic protocol. Need we remind you that we are in the midst of a “health crisis” and that it is difficult to maintain all the standards (e.g. randomised double-blind) of a study during this emergency situation?
“I do science, not propaganda”.Prof. Dr. Didier Raoult
On 27 May a third study was published, with 3,737 patients, and with the same promising results. This time, with more hindsight and a better understanding of Covid19 disease, there is a control group of 618 patients receiving an alternative treatment to the 3,119 people on HCQ-AZ. Again, the length of hospitalisation for those on HCQ-AZ was significantly shorter (7.3 days compared to 9.2 days for the other treatments). The proportion of patients hospitalised for more than 10 days is 3.5% (HCQ-AZ) compared to 9.2% for the other treatments. The overall mortality of 0.9% is reduced to 0.5% in patients on HCQ-AZ. There were no deaths in the under 60s in this study of 3737 people!
In September 2020 the IHU in Marseille published a meta-analysis on chloroquine and its derivatives and mortality in Covid 19 . Instead of discussing the results at length, here is a very telling graph.
On 1 November, Professor Raoult’s team published a new study, this time concerning the care of EHPAD residents in Marseille . The study concludes that HCQ-AZ treatment strongly reduces mortality. On 27 November, a study published in the journal European Geriatric Medicine came to the same conclusion .
The latest figures on the results of outpatient hydroxychloroquine, published in video format by the IHU Marseille, are even more encouraging. These results were published in March 2021. Of the 8,439 patients included in this study, as previously no deaths under 60 years of age occurred, total mortality was 0.07%. (Total mortality reduced by 75% (P<0.005) ).
And yet, as soon as the first convincing results were obtained, Raoult was massively decried by his detractors and other experts of all kinds. With hydroxychloroquine, he became the object of a massive discrediting campaign. The official medical community and the media then turned against him when studies were published suggesting that HCQ was highly toxic and even lethal.
More specifically, it is a study published by a certain M Sapan Desai , a vascular surgeon, then CEO of the now defunct (and controversial) Surgisphere Corporation. According to the authors, the research for this article, published on 22 May 2020, involved 96,000 patients with Covid19 in 671 hospitals around the world. Nearly 15,000 would have received HCQ alone or with an antibiotic. The conclusion (later proven to be false and fraudulent) was that HCQ had no benefit against Covid19 and that there was a high risk of cardiac arrhythmia and death. Raoult of course, against all odds, called this study “flawed” .
Nevertheless, the article hit the nail on the head and following its publication in The Lancet, the use of HCQ to treat Covid19 was officially banned by the WHO  and then by the French Minister of Health [17;18] (as was the case for many other countries in the world including Luxembourg ).
Then came a spectacular turnaround. In less than two weeks, it was the “fastest 180-degree turn in the history of the WHO” (according to the news website France 24 ). Indeed, the study was withdrawn on 4 June 2020 from the prestigious journal The Lancet following numerous criticisms from the scientific community calling it fraudulent. This case, known as “Lancet Gate” , remains a blatantly negative example for objective science based on scientific truth and integrity of stakeholders. Despite this, the use of HCQ in the Covid 19 treatment armoury was finally allowed to resume after the Lancet study was withdrawn [22;23].
On 5 June, the day after the Lancet Gate article was withdrawn, the results of Recovery, an English study from Oxford University, were published, again criticising HCQ. For Covid19-positive patients hospitalised, HCQ would have no benefit . The disappointing results are reported in the media without specifying that these patients were hospitalised and at a more or less advanced stage of the disease. Professor Raoult, on the other hand, advocates early treatment of patients, before they are too badly affected by the SARS CoV 2 virus, precisely to avoid the progression of the virus and thus avoid situations of acute respiratory distress.
On the other hand, the British partly used higher and sometimes toxic dosages, resulting in more cardiac side effects .
However, the damage has been done and HCQ remains a controversial issue during this pandemic. The Solidarity  and Discovery  trials drive the point home by stating that HCQ has no benefit in the treatment of Covid19 , but as with Recovery, these are specifically hospitalized patients with already advanced disease. These trials do not give us any information about treating patients at an earlier, less dangerous stage of Covid19 with the HCQ-AZ combination, as advocated by Raoult.
On 17 June, the WHO decided to definitively stop the therapeutic trials with HCQ in the Solidarity study. 
Shortly afterwards, in August, the results of the Raoult team’s real-time meta-analysis were published (see diagram at the beginning of this article). Raoult persists and signs, still against all odds, that HCQ associated with AZ would indeed have a beneficial effect on the mortality rate, the length of hospital stay and the duration of the disease itself, in patients treated early and at the indicated doses. This meta-analysis is quite conclusive but unfortunately very little highlighted by the official media machine, because it goes against the “doliprane-go-to-sleep” policy and also against the dogma that the vaccine is the only alternative to Covid19.
More recently, in January 2021, the article “Response to the use of hydroxychloroquine in combination with azithromycin for patients with COVID-19 is not supported by recent literature” co-authored by Prof Raoult was published. He demonstrates once again, with supporting results, that this claim is false. But, once again, the media apparently want nothing to do with this article, which remains under the radar of public opinion and is marked by the media’s version of the facts.
The same is true for the results, explained by Raoult in video format, of his study on now more than 8,400 patients who have benefited from his famous and still controversial protocol. The overall mortality, spectacularly low at 0.07%, is of no more interest to the scientific community than to the media.
Didier Raoult, the scientific community and the media
Because of his atypical appearance and his clear-cut positions, Raoult became one of the French people’s favourite public figures in early 2020. His communication is in tune with the times and with his Twitter account and his dazzling appearances in the media, he creates a buzz. The scientific community is quickly divided into two camps. He upsets some and is encouraged by others. For many, he became the key figure in the “Covid19 health crisis” in France. Everyone has an opinion about him, between the “anti-system” whistleblower and the controversial “populist”. He simply advocates a return to “common sense medicine”.
But with his outspoken views, which are shocking to some, he also makes many enemies. At the beginning of March 2020, he said he had received death threats to dissuade him from advocating HCQ. It was not until March 2021 that François Raffi, head of the infectious diseases department at the Nantes University Hospital, was fined 300 euros for insulting and threatening Raoult .
“I don’t like malicious people”Prof. Dr. Didier Raoult
With regard to the criticism of Raoult’s HCQ studies, Professor Christian Peronne, head of the infectious diseases department at the Raymond Poincaré hospital in Garches, said that “it is appalling to note that in today’s medicine the empirical approach can be scorned, under the pretext that randomised tests with a draw were not used”. Some other doctors, such as the former Minister of Health Philippe Douste Blazy, or the head of the emergency department of the Georges Pompidou European Hospital, support Didier Raoult, among others in a petition entitled “Let’s not waste any more time”, signed by over 462,000 people . They recommend a large-scale use of the HCQ in hospitals and in private practice.
In June 2020, Raoult openly criticised the management of the health crisis before the “parliamentary commission of enquiry on the management of the pandemic” at the National Assembly. The Director of the AP-HP, Martin Hirsch, described his comments as “false testimony”. Raoult counter-attacked by filing a complaint for slanderous denunciation .
“It’s a bad choice to lie”Prof. Dr. Didier Raoult
At the beginning of July 2020, the Society of Infectious Pathology filed a complaint against Raoult with the Bouches-du-Rhône departmental council of the Order of Physicians, accusing him of having violated nine articles of the profession’s code of ethics (including: promotion of a treatment whose efficacy had not been demonstrated, dissemination of false information, breach of the duty of confidentiality, and conducting clinical trials outside the legal framework). It was not until 24 November 2020 that the public prosecutor’s office dismissed Raoult’s complaint about the clinical trials, and Raoult filed a second complaint for slanderous denunciation .
In October 2020, when the French National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products refused the temporary recommendation for use of HCQ, Professor Raoult filed a complaint for “endangering the lives of others” and continued to treat Covid19 patients with his HCQ-AZ protocol.
In this article we only mention the major twists in a saga of serial complaints and counter-complaints that continue to this day.
The Luxembourg media never explained to the public that the complaints against Raoult were not successful and that, despite what his opponents say, he continues to have very good results in the fight against Covid19 . More than a year after the start of the crisis he is still disturbing, because he is still there and he is here to stay, determined not to bow to his detractors.
Professor Raoult continues to do his work as a researcher and doctor, with a clear conscience.
 Epidémies: vrais dangers et fausses alertes, Pr Didier Raoult, 04.2020, Michel Lafon
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Document rédigé en langue française, traduit en Allemand et en Anglais. Sur la page Luxembourgeoise nous avons publié un duplicata.