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Dr. Sabine Hazan: The Gut Bacteria That’s Missing in People Who Get Severe COVID

Dr. Sabine Hazan is a gastroenterologist and CEO of Progenabiome. She is an expert on gut bacteria. When she started studying the microbiomes of COVID-19 patients, she quickly noticed a pattern.

“The people that had severe COVID lacked a certain bacteria called bifidobacteria,” she says.

In this episode, she breaks down how a healthy gut impacts people’s outcomes from COVID-19, and what steps people can take to improve their gut health and overall immunity.

With the knowledge Hazan gained from studying the microbiomes of COVID-19 patients, she developed and patented treatment protocols combining vitamins and drugs that increase bifidobacteria including vitamin C, vitamin D, hydroxychloroquine, and ivermectin.

We also discuss how the COVID-19 vaccines impact the microbiome, including the microbiomes of babies breastfeeding from recently vaccinated mothers.


Interview trailer:

Watch the full interview:



Jan Jekielek: Sabine Hazan, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.

Sabine Hazan: Thank you for having me.

Mr. Jekielek: I’m going to read you a recent headline in Newsweek, “It’s time for the scientific community to admit we were wrong about COVID and it cost lives.” I’m sure you’ve read this piece.

Ms. Hazan: Yes.

Mr. Jekielek: What’s your reaction?

Ms. Hazan: I’ve been saying that from the beginning. In fact, I’ve been saying that since I opened ProgenaBiome, my genetic research lab, because I felt that even in microbiology we’ve been wrong. We always thought that we would find the bug, kill the bug, and essentially that would be the end of the story. But it’s not.

It’s find the bug, kill the bug, but you kill the microbiome at the same time. It’s not the end of the story, it’s the beginning of a new story and a new disease and a new problem. With Covid I felt that, because I knew this foundation was already wrong, I knew that we were going to make the same mistake, which is, “Let’s find a vaccine.” A vaccine for a virus that is mutating was just not the answer for me.

The answer to me was, “Let’s focus on the microbiome. Let’s focus on how to build our immunity because our immunity is in the gut,” rather than focusing on, “Let’s kill the virus. Let’s give a vaccine for a mutating virus.”

Mr. Jekielek: For starters, can you explain to everybody what exactly microbiomes are?

Ms. Hazan: A microbiome is essentially all the bugs in the universe that are around you, that are on your skin, and that are in your gut. It’s bacteria, viruses, and fungi. My focus is really on the microbiome of the bowels, right in the colon. Why? Because essentially, everything you eat, you put on your skin, and that you breathe goes into your colon. You put something on your skin, it goes into the blood vessel, moves around, and ends up in your gut.

The microbiome is essentially the accumulation of all these microbes that interplay with each other. They all have a function. If you look at a macro vision of humanity, every human being has a function. The accountant is doing his thing, the plumber is doing his thing, the contractor is doing his thing, the doctor, the lawyer, and everyone cohabitates the planet doing their thing.

In the gut, it’s the same thing, except it’s microscopic. You can’t see them doing their thing, but they all have a function. Every microbe is doing something, whether it’s absorbing vitamin B, metabolism, or affecting moods. That’s what we’re going to find out. That’s a fascinating thing about the microbiome, it’s all these interconnections of these microbes doing something and essentially creating your immunity.

Mr. Jekielek: Your approach to dealing with coronavirus, or the CCP virus, as we call it at The Epoch Times, and Covid, the disease, was through the lens of the microbiome.

Ms. Hazan: Correct. My thought at the beginning is that everything ends up in the gut. If it’s something you’re breathing, or if you have influenza in your lungs, you’re going to find it in your gut, because we were finding that. If you inject Botox in your face, you find botulinum toxin in your gut.

Essentially, if you’re seeing all those microbes eventually ending up in your gut, the hypothesis at the beginning is that Covid has to be in the gut. We started back in January, analyzing the virus.

Mr. Jekielek: January 2020?

Ms. Hazan: 2020, yes. We started in January 2020, because I had a big microbiome conference in Malibu, and doctors were coming from China, Australia, and all over to speak at this conference. We had to put the conference on hold, but we were studying the virus at the same time, because we’re all in the microbiome space. We’ve all played with poop essentially to try to manipulate or change diseases. That’s because we’re on the research part of it.

When Covid hit, and it went from China to Italy, and the strain of the virus changed, I said, “Wait a minute. This is not the same virus that was in China and went to Italy.” Dr. Borody and I, who was the father of fecal transplant, basically started saying, “Let’s look at this carefully.” We were all watching what was happening in China, and what was happening in Italy until it reached America.

As soon as it reached America, my first focus was to collect the stools. In March 2020, the first patients arrived, when that boat came off the shore, and basically patients were in there. Then, we had a couple patients in New York and a couple patients in LA. I collected stools. I had my doctors all over the country. We gathered ourselves, and there were about 400 doctors that do clinical research. Not just doctors that are practitioners, but doctors that were doing clinical research.

One of my doctors is Alan Miller in Atlanta. I remember calling him and saying, “You’ve got to collect stools.” He didn’t even have a mask. I didn’t have a mask. We’re basically going to these people’s houses, giving them kits and collecting stools. In March 2020, we had the first stools, and then we developed the assay.

When you’re looking for Covid, you have to have a certain pipeline that you develop. It’s not like I’m looking for a bunch of DNA of bacteria. I’m specifically looking for an RNA, a virus, and I’m specifically looking for Covid. We didn’t really know what to look for at the beginning and these reagents were not really developed. We had to create our own pipeline and that’s expensive.

It’s like you recreate a whole new formula in your lab. My scientist said, “You’re spending money for nothing.” This was over a $100,000 pipeline, not knowing what we were looking for. He said, “You’re not going to find anything.” I said, “I disagree. I’m sure I’m going to find something.” Then, he ran the pipeline and we ran those samples, and he called me and he goes, “You won’t believe this, but 100 percent of the samples have Covid.”

Even one patient that was asymptomatic, but come to find out he had symptoms a week prior. That was the beginning. We started looking at Covid in the stools and then when we found Covid in the stools, the people that didn’t have Covid were the people that were treated and no longer had symptoms. We said, “What treatment did they use?” The hydroxychloroquine/Z-Pak [azithromycin] was the treatment that was used.

That gave us an idea that maybe hydroxy and Z-Pak are killing off the virus. Because, like other bugs, you have to kill them and then boost the immunity. That was the first thing. The first thing was finding Covid. Then, once we found Covid, we decided to look at the people that had severe Covid, versus the people in the same family that never had Covid, but that were exposed to Covid.

We looked at the microbiomes. We did another pipeline, which is basically a DNA of microbes and we discovered that the people that had severe Covid lacked a certain bacteria called bifidobacteria. But there were people that were exposed to Covid, but never got Covid, in the same family. I’m talking about a farmer that slept with his wife. The wife had Covid. He never got it.

This farmer, in particular, did this experiment. He kissed her, he took his saliva, smeared on his face. He wanted to catch Covid to get the immunity. He never got it, never got the antibodies. I said to him, “I want to see your stools, and I want to see your wife.”

Sure enough, she had zero bifido. He had a lot. Why? He’s exposed outside, he’s in the sun, he’s playing with the cow manure. He’s drinking the raw milk from the cows. That started my train of looking at the microbiome.

Mr. Jekielek: This is absolutely fascinating. Basically, you’re seeing that there is bifidobacteria in people who are somehow resistant or have overcome it. Before we go there, I want to backtrack a bit and catch up. You said you have 400 doctors. You’ve been involved in clinical trials for decades, correct?

Ms. Hazan: Yes.

Mr. Jekielek: These 400 doctors that you’re talking about are people who you’ve been working with on this. On one side, you’re a gastroenterologist looking at microbiomes. On the other hand, you have been working in the sphere of clinical trials with big pharma for decades. Please explain that whole piece.

Ms. Hazan: I went from GI, being a gastroenterologist, to doing clinical trials. In fact, in my first year of fellowship, in order to get into GI as the first woman, I had to do research. The first year of research was really eye-opening about the world of clinical trials. I kept on doing clinical trials for pharmaceutical companies, like 10 percent clinical trial, 90 percent GI. And then, with kids and a husband who’s a cardiologist, it became 90 percent clinical research, and 10 percent GI. Why?

Because clinical trials gave me a view of what was the future. So often, you treat these patients with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, and you give them the treatment that everybody gives them. You don’t really have a novel approach. A clinical trial was really a new idea from a scientist, and then you give it to a patient. To get these patients, you have to have a network of physicians that refer to you.

I was always known in the world of clinical trials for a bacteria called Clostridium difficile [C.diff], which is essentially a bacteria that causes people to have diarrhea, and is caused by taking antibiotics. It’s a case of a patient taking antibiotics, getting diarrhea, and then getting C.diff. I was always doing these clinical trials because medications weren’t working.

Then these clinical trials brought a new understanding of the microbiome. From clinical trials and working with pharmaceutical companies, I had an insight into the world of how to bring these trials to market and work with pharmaceutical companies.

Mr. Jekielek: Let me just see if I’ve got this straight. On the one hand, you’ve got this window into these new methods that pharmaceutical companies are trying to use, and you’re actually getting patients and doing these double-blind tests.

Ms. Hazan: Yes, placebo-controlled trials.

Mr. Jekielek: Placebo-controlled trial, okay, excellent. Also, you’re specifically interested in this one particular bacteria that comes into the gut after antibiotics. Is this what you’re known for?

Ms. Hazan: Yes, this bacteria is essentially the bacteria that probably resided in the gut but became toxic, and started secreting its toxins because we killed the microbiome around it. It’s essentially a microbe that sustains itself with other microbes, but once you kill the rest of the microbes, it starts flaring up.

Mr. Jekielek: I see.

Ms. Hazan: That was the beginning. When clinical trials didn’t work, I would do a procedure called fecal transplant, taking stools from a healthy donor and putting it into the patient with C.diff. That was eradicating this problem for 99 percent of my patients. It was amazing because you might have a patient that was dying.

One of my first cases was a physician that was dying in the hospital, and we had to transfer him to Beverly Hills to do his case. Miraculously, he lived after a fecal transplant. All we did was take the poop of his wife and put it in there. That was the beginning of the microbiome. What is going on in there? What’s happening?

Mr. Jekielek: When you were able to transplant the microbiome from a healthy person, suddenly 99 percent of the patients were recovering.

Ms. Hazan: That’s huge.

Mr. Jekielek: That’s a very high rate.

Ms. Hazan: Yes, and this is the thing. These companies come to you and they say, “Why don’t you try this drug, and why don’t you try that drug?” A lot of us that have been doing this for years said, “Why would we try the drug when this procedure is giving us a 92 to 99 percent success rate, and you don’t have to see the patient? Back then, we didn’t have the technology that we have now to see what we were doing in the microbiome.

That’s why I went into the space of the microbiome leading the technology. I thought, “If I’m achieving an improvement in C.diff, I’m going to understand C.diff better, because now I have the technology to look at these microbes. Then, I might achieve improvement not only in C.diff, but also in Alzheimer’s, which was my first case years ago. A patient had Alzheimer’s, and I was putting him on a clinical trial for Alzheimer’s, and he failed.

In the middle of trying to be in the trial, the family called me and said, “He has C.diff.” I said, “Okay, we’re going to use the stools of the wife and give it to him.” Then next thing you know, his Alzheimer’s started improving after fecal transplant. Because I had tried to do the clinical trial on him, I knew his mini-mental status. I repeated the mini-mental status at three months and six months, and it went from 21 to 29.

That was the case that basically started all this for me. I went to Dr. Finegold who wrote the book on anaerobic infections. I said, “What am I seeing when I’m improving Alzheimer’s?” He said, “You’re seeing these microbes at play, and when you get your machine to sequence the microbiome, you’re going to understand what I’ve been culturing for years.”

The Woolsey Fire happened. He passed away. I inherited all his books, his patents, and everything. I said, “I guess I’m dealing with the microbiome.” His big passion was autism, and sure enough, within the week, I got my first patient with autism all of a sudden. It just was one thing after another.

When Covid hit here, I had already opened a genetic sequencing lab. I opened it mainly out of curiosity, because what I was seeing out there with genetic sequencing was just flawed with the testing of stools. You saw the company uBiome, that basically was selling stool kits to everyone, but there was no validity. There was no clinical data. These patients were getting these reports on these microbes, but they didn’t know what these microbes were doing.

To me, it was like, “Where are we in this field when the doctor is not included in this, and we’re the ones fixing these problems?” That’s when I really started opening the lab. Then when Covid hit, I felt, “I’ve got a genetic sequencing lab. I’ve got a clinical research company that basically submits protocols to the FDA. We have a portal. We know how to write these protocols. We know how to run them. Let’s get involved.”

Mr. Jekielek: You’re basically an expert at running clinical trials, correct?

Ms. Hazan: Yes.

Mr. Jekielek: You’ve got this sequencing, and you have this new paradigm that you’ve been seeing profound improvement even in some diseases that you didn’t expect. That’s absolutely fascinating.

Ms. Hazan: Yes, it was fascinating because when I found Covid in the stools, and when I saw that hydroxychloroquine/Z-Pak had an impact on Covid in the stools and started the creation of my protocols and writing my protocols, I felt, “Wow.” This was divine intervention almost, because I said, “I have a genetic sequencing lab. I have a CRO that’s running these clinical trials.” When the protocols of hydroxy became political, I was shocked, because I said, “I can’t believe I’m involved in this.”

Mr. Jekielek: Before we continue, Z-Pak, that’s azithromycin, correct?

Ms. Hazan: Yes.

Mr. Jekielek: Okay. I didn’t quite catch how you figured out that this combination of hydroxy and azithromycin was actually impacting positively on Covid patients.

Ms. Hazan: At the beginning of the pandemic, I was reading everything. We were all reading. We were translating journals in Italian. We were translating papers. I speak French, so I read Didier Raoult’s paper. First of all, the first thing that impressed me was these men, because I was scared.

We are in March 2020. We don’t know what we’re dealing with. I don’t have a mask in my clinic. I’m about to see patients with Covid. I’m about to bring Covid to my family, my parents, and my kids.

There was a fear at the beginning. I was dressed like a space astronaut with my patients. There was that fear at the beginning. But then I saw Dr. Didier Raoult with his patients without a mask talking nonchalantly about Covid. People were lining up at his office to get treated, and he’s older than I am. I said, “If this guy’s okay, I’m going to be fine.”

I started looking at his protocol, and I started looking at it as a microbiome expert. I said, “Let’s look at why hydroxy.” Hydroxy has the capability of transforming the pH of the cells. When the virus goes into the cell, it’s basically exposed to an alkaline environment. I said, “Look at this, the virus is entering the cell. It probably gets killed by the alkaline environment of the cell.”

At the same time, I felt azithromycin probably killed the wall of the virus, and then zinc was blocking the virus from penetrating. That was my mindset on the hypothesis of why this combination was working for Dr. Raoult. What I added to this, and that was by looking at papers from Italy and Japan, was vitamin C and vitamin D. There was data. At the beginning of the pandemic, there were patients that were getting discharged from the hospital after IV infusions of vitamin C.

I said, “Okay, we’re out of the pandemic. It’s vitamin C.” I knew what vitamin C did to the microbiome. I knew what vitamin D did to the microbiome, because it increases your bifidobacteria, your good microbes, the microbes we found were lost after severe Covid. That was the formula that I started creating.

I said, “You know what?” I talked to Dr. Borody because he was always into combination therapy. He created the patent for H. pylori treatment. He was always the creator, the innovator for years, he’s 70-plus years old. He’s done 40 years of creating patents.

He and I started talking about it. He goes, “That’s brilliant. That’s a great combination. Patent it right away.” We thought, “Here we are. We figured this out right at the beginning of the pandemic. Let’s create a pharmaceutical company. Let’s do this.”

We created a company called Topelia Therapeutics. Topelia is the genus of the dove, the white dove for peace. We felt, “If anything, this virus is going to bring everyone together and unite the world, not divide the world.” Surely people want to get better. We created it and we started submitting it to the FDA. Actually, within 24 hours, the FDA called me at three o’clock in the morning and said, “Dr. Hazan, you can run your trial.”

Actually, the first letter we got was to proceed and that we didn’t even need a trial. Then, within 48 hours, they said, “I’m sorry, Dr. Hazan, you have to do a full-on clinical trial.” We had submitted it as a Phase I. We said, “It’s not really a Phase I because these are safe drugs. Can we move it to a Phase II?” You remember in clinical trials, it’s like Phase I, II, III, and then to market.

We convinced the FDA, and sure enough, that was the phone call at three o’clock in the morning that said, “Yes, you can proceed and do it.” We literally wrote the protocol mid-March, March 10 and 11. At the same time, I was treating people off-label. My first patient was a COPD [Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease], cardiac bypass two weeks prior, CHF [Congestive Heart Failure], diabetic, overweight, totally your nightmare patient. He was at home, and the family didn’t want to bring him to the hospital. By nightmare, I mean multiple problems.

Mr. Jekielek: Most at risk from COVID.

Ms. Hazan: Most at risk, in his 70s, and he happened to be the father of a girlfriend of mine. I was even scared of telling him to take the hydroxy because I hadn’t studied everything. I said, “Just lick the tablet and take the Z-Pak.” Then, I gave him a couple vitamins. The next thing you know, he improved. I said to myself, “If this guy is improving, I’m going to be fine. I’m younger, and I’ll be fine.”

I lost the fear at that moment. Then, I started treating more and more kids and people, and 100 patients later, nobody dies. A thousand patients later, nobody is dying. Even the worst of the worst, with oxygen in the 70s, weren’t dying. I treated them at home with an oximeter like this little thing.

Mr. Jekielek: Let me just stop you for a moment. You were treating people in an outpatient setting with these very low oxygen levels?

Ms. Hazan: Correct, because they didn’t want to go to the hospital.

Mr. Jekielek: Fascinating. Then, this combination that you devised was actually helping them.

Ms. Hazan: It ended up becoming not the combination of a hydroxy, Z-Pak, vitamin C, D, and zinc. Actually, for the severe, it was a little bit more. We had to add the ivermectin, and ivermectin became important for those with low oxygen. At the beginning of the pandemic, we got away with hydroxy, Z-Pak, vitamin C, vitamin D. Then, as the virus became stronger during the whole Delta period, we needed to up the game a bit. We knew we needed to destroy the virus.

At that point, we had figured out vitamin C and vitamin D increases your bifidobacteria. We had also figured out that severe cases of Covid had zero bifidobacteria, and high risk exposure had a lot of bifidobacteria. We realized bifidobacteria was a key point, so we started focusing on nutrition with patients, fermented food, and ivermectin.

Why ivermectin? Because ivermectin, when you look at what it is, it’s a fermented product of a bacteria called Streptomyces. If you look at Streptomyces, it’s in the same phylum as bifidobacteria. Because I was doing fecal transplant and I knew that it’s replenishing the gut with good microbes, I felt, “Maybe the fermentation of Streptomyces is feeding the bifidobacteria to increase it at the time of the cytokine storm.”

Mr. Jekielek: Which is something that happens when you’re going through the COVID disease.

Ms. Hazan: Yes. Just to backtrack a little bit, I was doing these trials, and the FDA had approved me. The FDA basically said, “Look, you can go ahead.” Now, we hire an IRB [Institutional Review Board], and the IRB was New England IRB.

Mr. Jekielek: What is an IRB?

Ms. Hazan: It’s a regulatory board. It’s an independent board that basically looks over the protocol with a fine comb and looks at everything. They say, “We don’t approve of this and you need to change that.” We have to make a case for what we do. We wrote this protocol. We had to research everything.

I’m going to show you this, because I think people don’t realize. We have two binders of this that were created in 10 days with no sleep, we wrote it. We had to study. There were two pages of drugs that were basically contraindicated for hydroxy and Z-Pak. We had to make sure everything in the protocol was perfectly fine. We had to make sure the patient signed a consent form. We had to develop a consent form by PandaDoc, essentially, because we were consenting people from different places of the country.

Here we are, we run it through the IRB, and it takes about 20 days to come out. They said, “Okay, you’re ready to run.” On April 20th, we got approved. Then all of a sudden on Twitter, a post goes off. “Dr. Hazan is doing unethical protocols with hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, vitamin C and D, five drugs in an open label.”

I said, “Five drugs? First of all, it’s two drugs, two vitamins and a mineral. There were 100 protocols out there. “Why Dr. Hazan and ProgenaBiome? We’re a little small company trying to spearhead microbiome research.” I was shocked by this tweet, and it got retweeted 77 times with all sorts of comments about it.

The next thing you know there’s a Stat News report that goes off to all the agents of the FDA, which never made it to the media that basically said, “A tweet has been going around with Dr. Hazan doing five drugs in an open-label trial. We need to be doing placebo-controlled trials.”

I said to myself, “Placebo control in the middle of a pandemic?” I ignored it, right? On Monday, I got a letter from the FDA, “Dr. Hazan, stop your trials. You need to do a placebo-controlled trial.” I said, “In the middle of a pandemic? Can we just stop the fire first? Then, go back and see what’s happening, but first stop the virus from going its course.”

Basically, I went on to fight back and argue about this. I said to the FDA, “Look, I’ll do a placebo-controlled trial, but I’m giving vitamins on one arm, and the hydroxy/Z-Pak with the vitamins on the other.” My placebo was essentially not a placebo, it was vitamins, which got a lot of criticism.

I remember Harvey Risch at the beginning, because all these doctors were all doing their thing. Harvey said to me, “That’s a terrible design to be giving vitamins. You’re not going to have any data, because vitamin is doing its thing for the virus.” I said, “I don’t have a choice. I’m not going to let people die and I have to give them something. I can’t just enroll with a placebo that is a sugar pill.”