Ivermectin spokesman Professor Colleen Aldous recently attended the College of Primary Health Care Physicians in Zimbabwe and was appalled by yet another unsubstantiated government decision on Covid-19 treatment. Highly respected physicians linked their use of Ivermectin to the successful treatment of Covid-19. However, at the conference, the Advisory Committee on Medical and Therapeutic Policy announced that Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc were combined with Ivermectin as a non-recommended drug for use in the treatment of Covid-19. As Professor Aldous points out below, “the treatment that many physicians had used successfully during the pandemic was forced.” – Nadya Swart
Zimbabwe’s Advisory Committee bans the use of vitamins in Covid-19 treatment
By Professor Colleen Aldous *
I’m always surprised that the authorities manage to lower even further after they reach what we consider to be the lowest point!
Last week I attended the 2022 annual joint congress of CPCPZ / PSZ * at Viktoríufoss. I was invited to speak on evidence-based medicine (EBM) in the context of the conference theme, “Active Adaptation to New Health Challenges: Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic. During the session, Dr. Sabine Hazan introduced the Covid-19 treatment plan she introduced in Malibu, California, which included Ivermectin. Dr. Jackie Stone from Zimbabwe presented the results of his treatment plan, which also included the medicine. Dr. Hazan treated over 3,000 patients with zero mortality. Dr. Stone lost only six patients out of several hundred, who died when they were hospitalized and their treatment changed. Both doctors kept their patients out of hospitals and treated them in their homes – until Dr. Stone stopped using his treatment plan.
My jaw dropped when Dr. Edward Chagonda, the Zimbabwe Football Team’s doctor and specialist family doctor who gives lectures at the University of Zimbabwe in family medicine, presented the draft advisory committee on Covid-19 treatment guidelines. This committee had previously asked CPCPZ for Covid-19 treatment guidelines. They were handed over eagerly in the hope that they would make a positive contribution to national guidelines.
Imagine the shock of the audience, all CPCPZ and PSZ members, when they saw that the instructions were taken directly from the WHO guidelines, which i.a. molnupiravir as an antiviral drug, a drug with 50% efficacy to exacerbate a serious disease compared to 66% Ivermectin. The WHO drug list recommended for Covid-19 is unmanageable for ordinary Zimbabweans. All CPCPZ protocols were listed under Medicines not recommended for use in Covid-19 therapy. Predictably, they threw Ivermectin on the list, but C-, D- and zinc vitamins? It was clear that the CPCPZ protocol was requested to list all drugs in their treatment plan that were not specifically intended for use – the treatment that many doctors had used successfully during the pandemic was emptied. I believe the list was not considered at all. It appears to have just been copied and pasted from the CPCPZ treatment plan. It is unheard of for a doctor not to prescribe at least vitamins and zinc for a Covid-19 patient: over-the-counter medicines.
There are two groups of healthcare professionals involved in the treatment of Covid-19.
First, there are health care doctors or GPs who have requested permission to use Ivermectin from Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health. The authorization was provided with a provision to provide the Ministry with treatment data as an ongoing research project. It is these documents that are to be handed over to the ministry. I worked with Dr. Jackie Stone on a journal article that has been approved for publication that shows an immediate recovery in oxygen saturation after the start of her Ivermectin treatment. Data from other doctors in Zimbabwe who used Ivermectin will be considered as evidence as it is not in the form of a randomized controlled trial. However, following the arrest of Dr Stone and her subsequent legal troubles over her treatment, many doctors have been silent about their use of Ivermectin.
Secondly, there is a group of specialists who have very different approaches to treatment. They have been vocal in their rejection of the booking of health care doctors. According to one conference representative, “Unfortunately for Zimbabwe, specialists are seen as petty, but to me their advice would mean that no one would be treated with Covid-19 simply because patients could not afford it (sic). Their treatment guidelines and recommendations are reviewed by the WHO.
Then there are the patients. They are not all as honest as some people think. They will go to the treatment they believe in, whether the authorities like it or not. The majority of Zimbabweans will not be able to afford the recommended treatment and will not wait for the disease to worsen without taking any treatment. They prefer to treat themselves, including with Ivermectin.
Dr Chagonda sat on the advisory committee that drafted these guidelines and told the audience that these guidelines would be followed as if the nudity would be imprisoned. I do not kid you; it was his metaphor. Although efforts have been made to implement these guidelines rapidly, the draft has been referred back to the Covid-19 Treatment Guidance Committee for funding from all stakeholders, especially GPs and pharmacists, who are at the forefront of the fight against Covid19. The Ministry of Health has been wise to wait for data from doctors who have successfully treated Covid-19. They have postponed signing the instructions until this has been achieved.
My presentation on EBM, which preceded Dr Chagonda’s speech, I hope has made an impact. I introduced the EBM pyramid and cross-sectional diagrams and explained what research on reusable drugs like Ivermectin is suitable for a pandemic. I showed what the pros and cons of using Ivermectin in Covid-19 are now published and what was available when the WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic. I focused on considering the overall evidence, not just a narrow focus on randomized controlled trials. However, this induction still exists in some who I believe are set thinkers, not growth thinkers, who say that only a large randomized controlled trial can convince them before they will admit that drugs work. Until then, there is clearly not enough evidence for them. I also pointed out that Africans understand their own problems better than any sovereignty and that we should use our own brains to solve our own problems in a way that we know would work in our context.
I had been in Victoria Falls for five days and I have not seen an elephant. Dr. Hazan told me she saw one on the road outside the restaurant she was at. Dr. Stone says she has never been to the falls for more than 24 hours without seeing one. There was old and fresh elephant shit everywhere in town. I saw the footsteps of a child and an elephant in the bull. I saw baobab trees wrapped in a diamond mesh fence to protect them from the damage of elephants. All evidence! I had not seen an elephant in Victoria Falls yet. To see is to believe. Therefore, I inform with the confidence of the advisory committee that there is not enough evidence for elephants in Viktoríufossar that I recommend that you go there to see them.
* CPCPZ / PSZ – College of Primary Health Care Physicians of Zimbabwe / Pharmaceutical Society of Zimbabwe.
- Professor Colleen Aldous is a health scientist at the UKZN College of Health Sciences where she runs the Doctoral Academy. She is a member of the South African Academy of Sciences. She has a doctorate and has published over 140 peer-reviewed articles in peer-reviewed journals.
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Vitamins C, D and zinc transferred into exile together with Ivermectin in Zim
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