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Catholic bishops want resignation of health minister, ask for approval of anti-viral treatment

Catholic bishops in 10 Ecuadorian cities have sent a public letter to President Lenín Moreno asking for the resignation of Health Minister Juan Carlos Zevallos.

President Lenin Moreno

The bishops claim that Zevallos has shown an “inexcusable lack of leadership” in his role as the nation’s top health officer during the coronavirus pandemic and has routinely dismissed medical advice for anti-viral treatments. Specifically, the bishops are asking Moreno to approve the use of chlorine dioxide for the treatment of Covid-19 patients, pointing to “successful application” in Ecuador of the anti-viral on army troops and hospitalized patients.

In its use with troops, a four-day treatment allegedly produced negative Covid-19 test results for 17 soldiers who had previously tested positive. “Zevallos refused to look at the data and instead attacked the military doctor who authorized the use of chlorine dioxide,” the bishop’s letter said. The letter also sites “successful use of chlorine dioxide in Bolivia, Brazil and Mexico.”

In a separate document, a church-sponsored epidemiologist criticized Zevallos and the “medical establishment” for refusing to consider the benefits of chlorine dioxide. “Although there is no evidence that it has caused any harm, apologists for the pharmaceutical industry routinely mischaracterize chlorine dioxide as ‘clorox’ even though it is widely used to purify blood supplies, medical supplies and municipal and bottled water,” the document said. “The problem, of course, is that the drug industry cannot make money from the product and therefore objects to its use.”

In their letter, the bishops also accused Moreno failing to stop corruption in public hospitals and allowing powerful figures to use disability licenses to import expensive vehicles. “At a time when our country needs honest leadership more than ever, it appears government officials are turning a blind eye and, in some cases, participating in corrupt activities themselves.”