County health leaders warn against Ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment

Tulare County public health officer, Kaweah Health chief nursing officer put out statements that Ivermectin is not an approved medication to prevent COVID-19

TULARE COUNTY – Health leaders in the county are making explicit statements to residents not to use a common animal medication to treat COVID-19.

Residents in the United State, California and now evidently Tulare County have decided to take Ivermectin as a way to ward off the COVID-19 disease. Often used in the U.S. to treat or prevent parasites in animals, some residents have decided to medicate themselves with the unproven drug. Last week Tulare County public health officer Karen Haught, and Kaweah Health’s chief nursing officer Keri Noeske warned against using it at all.

“Please be advised that Ivermectin has not been proven to prevent or treat COVID-19 and can cause harmful health effects if taken in an unapproved manner,” Haught stated last Friday. “Many veterinary products are made for large animals so they contain doses that are much higher than what is safe in humans; they may also contain other ingredients that have not been studied for safety in humans. Self-medicating can be very dangerous because there is a high risk of overdose or toxicity.”

Noeske said that some of the patients who have been hospitalized for COVID-19 were treating themselves with Ivermectin. Although, she added that none of the patients have been hospitalized for side effects of the drug.

“We are not seeing cases of patients being admitted due to side effects of using it, but we do know that it’s a possibility,” Noeski said. “We do not recommend that people self-medicate with Ivermectin. Individuals should develop COVID treatment plans with their doctors. If a doctor decides to prescribe Ivermectin, they will have the knowledge to dose it accurately and know if it will adversely interact with other medications or conditions for a patient.”

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Ivermectin tablets are approved at very specific doses for some parasitic worms, and there are topical formulations for head lice and skin conditions like rosacea. The FDA added that Ivermectin is not an anti-viral medication which is required for treating viruses.

Clinical trials to gauge the efficacy of Ivermectin on the COVID-19 disease were late updated in June. The trial is looking at the effect the drug might have on high risk COVID-19 patients. The study is comparing Ivermectin treatment with standard care alone. There are only 500 participants who were selected at random for the trial.

Participants are split up into two groups. One of the groups is given Ivermectin in addition to standard care, while the other is just given standard care. The primary completion date of the study is Dec. 1 of this year. The study completion date is expected Jan. 1 of next year.

Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial had over 43,000 participants enrolled. In that trial last November, the company determined their vaccine was 95% effective against COVID-19 beginning 28 days after the first dose. Efficacy of the vaccine was consistent across age, gender, race and ethnicity.

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials included 28,207 participants. All of which received two doses of the vaccine 28 days apart. The efficacy of their vaccine was 94%, only slightly off from Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine.

Johnson & Johnson’s single dose COVID-19 vaccine enrolled 45,000 participants. Their vaccine got FDA emergency use authorization in late February. The company said their vaccine was 85% effective in preventing sever disease across all regions studied, and like the other vaccines, showed protection against COVID-19 related hospitalizations and death.

Vaccinations in Tulare County are predictably poor. Only 37.1% of resident are fully vaccinated, while 7.2% are partially vaccinated. Meanwhile, the number of active cases continue to go through the roof. On Aug. 1 there were only 10.1 new cases per 100,000 residents, as of Friday, Aug. 27 there were 39.8.

Last Tuesday, Aug. 24 there were 1,867 active cases in Tulare County, this week there are 2,589, a difference of 722. As go the number cases, so do the number of hospitalizations. As of Monday, Aug. 30 there were 166 hospitalizations, 19 more than the week before. Kaweah Health has borne the brunt of those hospitalizations with well over 100, and double digit COVID-19 patients in their ICU, most days.

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