Hydroxychloroquine. Remdesivir. Ivermectin. Several drugs have been touted as miracle drugs for COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, often without strong medical evidence to support their use. Much like fad diets, the arguments for these controversial treatments have come and gone, with ivermectin having recently come to the fore.
As a doctor and researcher in COVID-19 genetics, I am worried. No substance that we consume, whether it is one of these drugs or a nutritional supplement, lacks risk. Self-medication in an uncontrolled environment without consultation with healthcare professionals puts people at risk, especially when evidence suggests these drugs do not help prevent or treat COVID-19.
Ivermectin is used to treat several types of parasitic infections. It works by interfering with a parasite’s nervous system to paralyze it and ultimately kill it.
Ivermectin has recently gained attention, as test-tube studies have shown that it can prevent the virus from continuing to grow. This prompted clinical trials to see if these findings could apply to humans as well.
While such results are promising, experiments in a test tube are very different from clinical trials, given that you can test dosages of drugs that would be unsafe or inaccessible in humans to determine if an effect exists. Such phenomena are the reason why we so often hear of experiments claiming new cures for cancer with less progress in treating our friends and family.
What does the ivermectin data show for the treatment of COVID-19 in humans? There are promising results in critically ill patients, but more high-quality data needs to be collected, especially for those with mild or silent COVID. It is currently in progress.
The high quality aspect of the research is crucial because ivermectin is not without its risks. While ivermectin is generally well tolerated and safe at doses recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), about 3% of people may experience itchy skin, general itching, or dizziness. At these doses, individuals may, in rare circumstances, have seizures or a potentially fatal immune reaction. If you are taking the anticoagulant warfarin (Coumadin), ivermectin may interact with this medication and increase the risk of bleeding.
It is important to consult with licensed health care providers about medications and their potential harms, as an increased risk of bleeding can, in extreme cases, result in bleeding into the brain, which can be life-threatening. in danger. Your family doctor or nurse practitioner is trained to determine whether a drug is appropriate and, if so, whether it should decrease your dose to keep you safe.
Such a safety profile means that if ivermectin is ultimately found to help treat COVID-19, your doctor could prescribe it, if appropriate, with reasonable confidence that its benefits will outweigh its potential harms. It is generally not prescribed for COVID-19 outside of clinical trials now because there is no evidence yet that it helps people.
Good intentions, but dangerous choices
Recently, non-medical people have inappropriately taken this data into their own hands and self-prescribed and self-medicated with veterinary ivermectin, guided by social media figures and politicians. These well-meaning victims have overdosed on drugs and are increasingly coming to the emergency room.
This behavior is dangerous because all drugs (and nutritional supplements) carry a higher risk of side effects when you increase the dose. The risk of seizures and life-threatening immune reactions is low at doses of ivermectin approved by the FDA. The chance is much higher when you increase the dose considerably, which would happen if you took amounts intended for mammals larger than you. It’s not sure – a sentiment echoed by the FDA.
The benefit of the doubt
COVID-19 is terrifying and has left many people helpless in the face of a deadly infection. Vaccination is the best treatment for COVID-19 because it prevents you from completely contracting the disease in most cases. For those who still contract the disease, most will only have a mild infection and will not die.
Many people question this safe and effective treatment based on the false and exaggerated claims of anti-vaccination activists and some politicians. It is hardly surprising and quite understandable that our neighbors would seek to take charge of their safety and their lives if they thought it was the best option.
I am here to recommend that everyone take a step back and think about how the pandemic has changed us. Think about the fear, vulnerability and frustration we have been through over the past 18 months. Today give us healthcare providers a chance and trust us. Wear your mask, get vaccinated if you haven’t already. Give us, your neighbors, the benefit of the doubt. We want to help you. Could you help us please?