By Dr. Zulfikar Bux
Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Vanderbilt Medical Center
Over the past few months, I have been focusing on preventative measures to help combat the COVID-19 spread. I still think that we can win this fight if we all adhere to prevention plans that myself and many others have been promoting. Unfortunately, we have not been doing such a good job in practising preventative measures and the cases keep increasing. With this in mind, I thought it would be wise to update you on what the recent evidence is saying about treatment options for COVID-19. I will focus on early treatment as this is the key to preventing the progression of the disease. More studies are coming out associating the early use of the medications/interventions I will discuss today with better outcomes.
I’m sure that you’re aware of the heated debate going on worldwide about the use of hydroxychloroquine in the management of COVID-19. It was initially touted as the go to drug and then was pulled back because of possible safety worries and some studies showing its ineffectiveness against the disease. HCQ is thought to prevent the virus from entering our cells and causing the destruction that leads to complications and even death. Majority of the studies that debunked its effectiveness were done in patients that were in hospital and when the disease had reached its later stages. HCQ is effective in the early phase of the disease when the virus has not entered our cells enough to overwhelm our bodies. Giving HCQ after enough of the virus has entered our body, and then to overwhelm it is pointless. More studies are now showing that if we use it early, we can prevent the virus from entering our cells and avoid the destruction that can occur once enough enters. In addition, HCQ has been around for more than 70 years and it has been used quite commonly for a few diseases over the years. I cannot find any data of a patient that died from using the correct dose of HCQ after so many years of its existence.
Ivermectin is a medication that has been around for over 40 years. It is used to fight many parasitic infections. Studies are showing that it has a similar effect against COVID-19 as HCQ. It also prevents the virus from entering our cells and wreaking havoc. It can therefore only benefit us if used early in the disease before we reach the stage where we need to go to the hospital. Some countries are now starting to combine it with HCQ to see maximal effect in patients that present early in the disease.
A prepared immune system
Our immune system is a key component in fighting off infections. The coronavirus seems to have an upper hand in patients with weaker immune systems. It overwhelms them faster and progress to destroy their body. If we prepare our immune system for the battle by “arming” it ahead of time and during the battle, the more likely we will be victorious. I had mentioned in a previous article on how we can prepare our immune system. I will therefore list the interventions below that science have proven to boost your immune system and studies are now confirming their importance in the battle against COVID-19.
• Vitamin C
• Vitamin D
• Avoid stress
If you need more information on how to prepare your immune system against the COVID-19 infection, you can web search this link: https://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2020/05/10/coronavirus-a-strong-prepared-immune-system-is-our-best-bet/.
I did not highlight the much touted Remdesivir because it’s too expensive for us in Guyana and its benefit was not as strong as these other medications/interventions. My decision to write on these medications/interventions is based on what the latest evidence is showing. This may change as we learn more about the disease. For now, the evidence is too strong to ignore these early interventions. There are other treatment options as the disease progresses but I think that it’s better that we focus on the early interventions that work to prevent the progression of the disease and help improve outcomes before it’s too late. Be reminded, that prevention is better than cure; practice preventative measures against COVID-19 first and foremost. In the event that you end up with the disease, ask your doctor about these treatment options and begin using the non-prescription options ASAP.
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