Please get moving on Ivermectin, Dr TuftonThursday, June 03, 2021
Dr Christopher Tufton cannot be accused of failing to have the interest of the Jamaican people at heart when it comes to authorising drugs to fight COVID-19, notably Ivermectin which many countries are now hankering after.
What the minister of health and wellness can be accused of, however, is not being aggressive or proactive enough in examining the benefits of the drug to treat the disease against the continuing high rates of death.
Indeed, his ultra-cautiousness and tendency to sit back and wait until the major Western powers and their institutions give the go-ahead is what caused Jamaica to lapse behind the rest of the Caribbean in acquiring COVID-19 vaccines.
To this day the US has not yet given full authorisation of the AstraZeneca vaccine which we are using — thanks to India — and without which we might not have had one dose of any vaccine up until now.
For a good period of time, too, European countries had put a pause on use of that vaccine.
In the case of Ivermectin, once the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) gives it the nod, Dr Tufton will develop the nerves to accept the drug — which a sizeable portion of our medical fraternity strongly believes will help curtail deaths from COVID-19.
Let us agree that when it comes to the matter of accepting drugs and medication which are to be taken into the human body it is generally better to err on the side of caution. But it is not always this simple.
Ivermectin is being touted by experts globally as one of the world's safest, cheapest, and most widely available drugs associated with high levels of statistically significant benefits in reducing transmission rates, need for hospitalisation, and occurrence of death from COVID-19.
It is, however, controversial because many of the major Western institutions, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Medicines Agency, and the US Food and Drug Agency are still hemming and hawing about it, saying more studies are needed.
In January this year the NIH Treatment Guidelines Panel upgraded its recommendation on Ivermectin, making it an option for use in COVID-19, from “against” to “neither for nor against”. By no longer recommending against Ivermectin doctors worldwide are feeling freer to prescribe the drug as another therapeutic option for the treatment of COVID-19.
In Jamaica, a group of prominent doctors have called on Dr Tufton to free up the use of Ivermectin.
“In our carefully considered opinion, the available data on Ivermectin is quite adequate. There is no need to await the outcome of further trials. Any call for local trials prior to approval is unnecessary, as neither time, resources, nor ethical approval would permit,” they wrote.
“We need not await WHO approval of the use of Ivermectin for treatment of COVID-19. The WHO, unfortunately, has been slow, and sometimes incorrect, in its assessment and advice on various aspects of the pandemic, and specifically so in relation to its current stance on Ivermectin.”
Developed in 1975, Ivermectin led to the eradication of a pandemic of parasitic diseases across multiple continents and earned the 2015 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for its discoverers, Dr William Campbell and Dr Ōmura Satoshi.
Please get a move on, Dr Tufton.
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