As the junior year of the pandemic continues, many are still hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Frustrated, fearful and suspicious, some have turned to using unauthorized or unregulated drugs in hopes of preventing and treating the virus – despite an abundance of research and scientific data supporting the vaccine’s effectiveness.
When considering the use of drugs such as antibiotics, supplements and the now fashionable antiparasitic drug ivermectin, it is important to note that COVID-19 is a virus, not a bacterial infection. The components of a virus and a bacterial infection are completely different. I often tell my patients that I can prescribe the strongest antibiotic in the world, but if they have a viral infection it won’t help. In fact, taking an antibiotic to treat a virus will have no benefit – and could cause unwanted side effects or, unfortunately, cause a person to develop resistance to antibiotics.
According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), antiparasitic drugs such as Ivermectin should not be used to treat COVID-19. Antiparasitic drugs, just like antibiotics, are not appropriate or effective treatments for the virus because these drugs have not yet been proven to respond to viral infections. The FDA also says that taking large doses of Ivermectin is “not ok” and this overdose on Ivermectin can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (problems with balance), seizures, coma and even death .
Supplements and Vitamins
Although supplements and vitamins can help the immune system, they do not treat or prevent COVID-19. Supplements are unregulated and we don’t really know what effects they have in the body. When thinking about which supplements to take, I suggest doing your research and talking to your health care provider to make sure you are taking the right supplements for your body.
Vitamins A and E can be beneficial for the immune system, but it is also important to understand the risks. Taking more than the recommended dose of a vitamin could end up doing more harm than good, including damaging something in your body that was working normally.
As an emergency care physician, I have witnessed not only the pain, but also the emotional distress and devastation caused by COVID-19. We — families, friends, children, neighbors, frontline workers, our communities — are heartbroken and, frankly, tired. We, like everyone else, want the pandemic to end and the suffering to end.
Our best hope when it comes to fighting COVID-19 is the vaccine. It is not only a safe and effective way to protect ourselves, our families and our communities, but it gives us the chance to move forward together.
Dr Bayo Curry-Winchell, MD, MS, is a board-certified practicing family physician based in Reno, NV, where she is Regional Clinical Director for Carbon Health and Medical Director for Saint Mary’s Medical Group. She is also a member of the Mayor’s Task Force and the Governor’s Medical Advisory Team on COVID-19.