Doctors have warned of the dangers of quack cures for Covid-19 after a Sydney man was rushed to hospital after self-administering a drug used to deworm cows called ivermectin.
Australian conservatives, including ex Liberal MP Craig Kelly, have been pushing the drug in the US and Australia as an alternative treatment for Covid-19 for months.
But that’s led to a spike in poisonings overseas and now it seems Australia with patients self dosing the vet medicine before presenting with explosive diarrhoea and vomiting.
Sydney’s Westmead Hospital toxicologist Associate Professor Naren Gunja has revealed a Covid-positive person is recovering at home after presenting to emergency after taking Covid “cures” they ordered online.
“Thankfully they didn’t develop severe toxicity but it didn’t help their Covid either,” Associate Professor Gunja said.
“There’s no evidence to support the use of ivermectin to treat Covid-19. Don’t look for magic cures online, and don’t rely on what’s being peddled on the internet, because none of them work.”
New Zealand’s Ministry of Health said in a statement in April last year that it “strongly recommends the public do not buy and treat themselves with Ivermectin for Covid-19”.
“When ingested in high doses, Ivermectin can have a serious effect on humans, with symptoms including low blood pressure, worsening asthma, severe autoimmune disorders, seizures and liver damage,” the statement said.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a blunt warning to Americans contemplating using ivermectin.
“You are not a horse,” the agency said on Twitter. “You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”
But that hasn’t stopped right-wing groups pushing the drug as an alternative treatment.
In the United States, far-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos shared four images on Telegram over the weekend that suggested he had Covid and had injected himself with ivermectin.
The ivermectin bottle in Yiannopoulos’ photos had imaged of a cow and a pig on it and was marked: “For veterinary use only.”
“Now we wait,” Yiannopoulos wrote in the Telegram message to followers on August 28.
Yiannopoulos then complained he felt “woozy” and was “feeling a little peculiar” and couldn’t remember people’s names.
Ivermectin imports have spiked in recent months prompting a warning from the drug regulator the TGA.
“Ivermectin is a prescription medicine that is not approved in Australia (or in other OECD countries) to prevent or treat Covid-19 disease, and should not be imported for this indication,” the regulator said.
“The TGA strongly discourages self-medication and self-dosing with ivermectin for Covid-19 as it may be dangerous to your health. There is insufficient evidence to validate the use of ivermectin in patients with Covid-19
US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci has also begged Americans not to take the drug for Covid.
“Don’t do it,” he said. “There is no evidence whatsoever that works.”
Westmead Hospital reports it has seen a range of presentations from people trying to treat Covid with dangerous substances including hydroxychloroquine, disinfectants, bleach and alcohols.
“If you’ve taken ivermectin and you feel unwell, call the poison information hotline in an emergency,” Associate Professor Gunja advised.
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