Dr. Rai talks COVID-19 treatments and dangers of taking drugs meant for animals

Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 7:34 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - There’s been a very public discussion on treatments for COVID-19. Some circles have been promoting ivermectin, a drug used for parasitic disease.

Prevea Health President and CEO Dr. Ashok Rai says taking ivermectin purchased at farm or vet stores can be dangerous for humans.

“What’s hit the press a lot is the drug called ivermectin, which we use for parasitic disease. That has been studied. There’s been 14 studies reviewed by the National Institutes of Health and it hasn’t shown to work. So it’s not approved for the treatment of COVID, it shouldn’t be used for that. Unfortunately people are still using it, and they’re getting it from veterinary stores or farm stores and it’s dangerous when you do that,” says Dr. Rai.

WISCONSIN SITUATION

“As far as cases in the state of Wisconsin, they definitely are continuing to still rise. Our cases per 100,000, today and this time last year, it’s still higher now than it was this time last year. But, in a glass-half-full type of situation, the rate of rise isn’t as bad as it was, maybe a week ago. There may be some hope around the horizon, but now that we’re starting to go indoors, school is starting, we’re a little concerned. We’re starting to see, after the first couple of days of school, some kids turning positive, but that’s expected. As long as we can get everybody to mask up, we can hopefully contain that situation. Definitely get tested if you have symptoms.”

THERAPIES AND TREATMENTS

“I think there’s a lot out there for therapy right now. There’s some stuff you should be taking and some stuff you shouldn’t be taking. What’s hit the press a lot is the drug called ivermectin, which we use for parasitic disease. That has been studied. There’s been 14 studies reviewed by the National Institutes of Health and it hasn’t shown to work. So it’s not approved for the treatment of COVID, it shouldn’t be used for that. Unfortunately people are still using it, and they’re getting it from veterinary stores or farm stores and it’s dangerous when you do that. So we shouldn’t do that. But there is therapy we have that we have shown that works that we can give you, and it’s called monoclonal antibody. It’s an IV medication so it’s not easy to give, it’s not something you can pop in your mouth. But it’s something that if you turn positive your doctor could recommend for you if you have certain risk factors, and prevent you from going into the hospital.”

PREGNANCY

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology is definitely recommending the vaccine right now. What we’ve seen is the vaccine has been given to tens of thousands of pregnant women without significant effects on them, so they have recommended it. Main reason is because of the risks of pregnancy. Pregnancy is an immune-compromised state, and you’re trying to protect not only the mother but the baby. And we’ve seen mothers and pregnant women that have gotten COVID, who have wound up in the intensive care unit, have gotten very sick, some have died, unfortunately. So when you talk about the risk and the benefit of the vaccine, there’s definite higher benefit in being protected from getting very sick than any risks we’ve been able to find in the vaccine so far. So if you’re pregnant, it’s really important that you talk to your OB-GYN and consider getting the vaccine.

“The vaccine is safe. There’s no evidence it causes any infertility. Many people have gotten pregnant since receiving the vaccine. That’s both for men and for women.”

VACCINE CARDS

“It’s important to know that that card is just a card. Obviously it can be forged, for lack of better words there. There are ways you can show your vaccination electronically. For example, if you were vaccinated by us at Prevea or any of the other health systems, you can go on your online portal--ours is MyPrevea--and on your app, you can very easily find your proof of vaccination. If you were vaccinated in the state of Wisconsin, it’s even easier than that, or there’s another way to get it printed out. You can go to the Wisconsin Immunization Registry. You can put in your personal information and it will show your vaccination history with the lot numbers and dates you need to be able to show and prove you’ve been vaccinated. Sometimes I’m pretty good at losing things, and a lot of people have lost their cards. They’re calling us and panicking because they want to go to Summerfest tonight. It’s pretty easy to go out online, get that printed out and enjoy yourself. It’s great that events are requiring vaccination and this is how you can prove it.”

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