Selayang MP Repeats Call To Approve Debunked Ivermectin For Covid-19

Selayang MP William Leong Jee Keen also questioned the government’s order of the antiviral pill molnupiravir for Covid-19 treatment, even though it has yet to be approved by the Drug Control Authority (DCA).

KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 – Selayang MP William Leong Jee Keen has repeated calls for the government to reconsider and approve the use of debunked antiparasitic drug ivermectin to treat or prevent Covid-19.

The PKR lawmaker, a strong proponent of the drug often used as a dewormer, questioned the government’s refusal to authorise the use of the widely available ivermectin to treat Covid-19 patients when two studies conducted in Japan and the United States, he said, offered indications that the drug had a positive effect against the virus, including Omicron.

Leong also questioned the government’s order of the antiviral pill molnupiravir for Covid-19 treatment, although the pill has yet to be approved by the Drug Control Authority (DCA).

“Following the conclusion of the I-TECH study by the Institute for Clinical Research (ICR), the government said it will conduct a second study. I’d like to know what the status of the second ivermectin study is, titled ‘Randomised, double-blind, placebo, control clinical trial of ivermectin for post-exposure prophylaxis for Covid-19 infection among close contacts’.

“In view of the government’s current stance on ivermectin, I’d like for the government to explain if it has taken the following findings into account. 

“In the first I-TECH study, it showed that intensive care (ICU) rates in the control group was at 3.2 per cent versus the ivermectin group at 2.4 per cent; those who require ventilation, 4 per cent were in the control group, and 1.7 per cent involved ivermectin recipients.

“The control group also reported 10 Covid deaths compared to 3 Covid deaths among those who had taken ivermectin, while the side-effects reported involved only diarrhoea and other non-serious side-effects.

“So, what is so wrong about giving Covid-19 patients the option to use ivermectin – between death and diarrhoea?” Leong said in his debate on the motion of thanks on the royal address in the Dewan Rakyat today.

The I-TECH study, however, concluded that ivermectin was not more likely to prevent severe disease among patients with mild to moderate Covid-19 than conventional treatment.

Leong also cited a non-clinical ivermectin study by Japanese trading and pharmaceuticals company Kowa Co Ltd and Tokyo’s Kitasato University that found the drug to have an “antiviral effect” against Omicron and other Covid variants. 

“Therefore, I ask the government to review these studies and reconsider their stance, and not wait for the second (I-TECH) study as the human cost has to be taken into account. We should not wait for 7 more people in the control group to die before a decision is made,” he said.

Separately, the Selayang MP also called for greater transparency from the government in providing information related to Covid-19 vaccine booster shots.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin earlier said that senior citizens and Sinovac primer vaccine adult recipients who fail to get their booster dose by March 31 will see their fully vaccinated status lapse.

Leong said the World Health Organization (WHO), in an interim statement on December 22, 2021, stated that introducing booster doses should be firmly evidence-driven and targeted to the population groups at highest risk of serious disease and those necessary to protect the health system.

In another WHO statement dated January 22, 2022, it warned that repeated administration of booster doses is unsustainable in light of new Covid variants.

“Therefore, I ask the government to equip the public with full information and solid scientific evidence that a Covid-19 vaccine booster shot is necessary.

“The government should also provide information on the side effects of booster shots — how many severe side effects and deaths have been reported due to booster shots, and those who got myocarditis or blood clots or any other form of illness due to booster doses,” he said.

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