(CMC) – Trinidad and Tobago health officials on Wednesday expressed concern at the increasing numbers of paediatric cases stemming from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and appealed once more for people to stop using Ivermectin, (a broad spectrum anti-parasitic agent) to treat COVID-19.
Health Minister, Terrence Deyalsingh, speaking at a Ministry of Health news conference in Trinidad said despite warnings, many COVID-19 patients in home isolation are continuing to rely heavily on the drug, spending huge sums of money and are not getting the desired outcome in staving off the virus.
“The frontline doctors at the A&Es (Accident and Emergency), when they examine the notes that are based on interviews with relatives and patients, we continue to see… and the doctors have asked me to raise this, this morning, because they are concerned, appalled and disheartened by the continued reliance by persons on Ivermectin,” Deyalsingh said.
“You have persons who could afford it, this is the information coming to me this morning, who are paying up to TT$30,000 (USD $4412) to be treated at home with Ivermectin and home oxygen,” he continued. “What the doctors have asked me to say this morning is that this is untenable. If you are on oxygen at home, they ask you to come in to a facility to get oxygen. And there’s no need to spend TT$30,000 on Ivermectin at home.”
Ivermectin is included in World health Organization (WHO) essential medicines list for several parasitic diseases. It is used in the treatment of onchocerciasis (river blindness), strongyloidiasis and other diseases caused by soil transmitted helminthiasis. It is also used to treat scabies.
Last year, the WHO said the evidence on the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 patients is inconclusive and that until more data is available, it is recommending that the drug only be used within clinical trials.
Deyalsingh told reporters that health authorities were also concerned at the use of what he termed COVID packs, a combination of Ivermectin, Vitamin B and Vitamin C.
“That is not going to assist you. And it is their view (doctors) that the continued reliance and confidence being placed on Ivermectin is contributing in some way or fashion to the number of deaths that we experience.
“So again, and the CMO (Chief Medical Officer) is going to write once again to the Medical Association and the Pharmacy Board about the use of Ivermectin to treat OVID -19 patients at home, which is not WHO-approved and for which there have been no clinical trials showing its efficacy. And people are dying at home after paying these huge amounts of money for something that is no better than snake oil,” he added.
Last month, a medical practitioner in St Lucia was suspended for six months after prescribing the drug Ivermectin to treat patients who had contracted the coronavirus (COVID-19).