Hamilton Journal News

Ivermectin for COVID is still in trial phase

- Keith Roach Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporat­e them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to ToYourGood­Health@med. cornell.edu or send mail to 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.

done, and although some have shown promising results, it is still too early to recommend treatment. For one thing, the dose needed to inhibit viral replicatio­n in test tubes was not possible to achieve with treatment in humans. Moreover, there are many examples of promising candidate drugs that have failed when subjected to rigorous trials. These types of trials are ongoing now. Until the results are available, I would recommend against the use of ivermectin.

Let me implore people not to treat themselves with veterinary ivermectin. These products are not designed for humans.

DEAR DR. ROACH: I read your column every day and have seen many questions about the Shingrix vaccine. I have a question that hasn’t been addressed. In 1991, at age 29, I was part of the Merck Varicella vaccine study at Columbia University in

New York City. To qualify for the study, I went through extensive testing, and it was confirmed that I’d never had chickenpox. I received two doses of the vaccine during the trials, and they followed my titer levels for many years. As of 2007, I still had titers. The vaccine I received was the one that ended up being approved by the FDA and is currently in use.

I am getting conflictin­g opinions from my doctors about whether I need the Shingrix vaccine. My internist recently said, “Since you never had the chickenpox and actually received the chickenpox vaccine (Varivax), Shingrix would not be recommende­d for you.” What is your opinion? — J.K.

ANSWER: Yours is indeed an unusual situation. The vast majority (more than 99%) of adults have had chickenpox, even those who have no clinical history. Especially at young ages, chickenpox may not have the typical rash that allows a pediatrici­an or family doctor to make the diagnosis. As such, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults over 50 get the new Shingrix vaccine without doing any testing, even in people with no known history of chickenpox.

For those few people with absence of proof of infection of chickenpox, the recommenda­tion is to give the chickenpox vaccine, and then the Shingrix vaccine. Thus, I disagree with your internist. The chickenpox vaccine is not effective enough to reduce your risk of developing shingles, and Shingrix dramatical­ly does so.

Put another way, consider the downside: Two doses of the Shingrix vaccine normally causes only mild side effects, such as sore arm, a little bit of fever and feeling lousy for a day or two. Balanced against that is the expected 97% reduction in the risk of developing shingles. Shingles is much worse than the side effects of the vaccine and can sometimes cause devastatin­g complicati­ons, especially post-herpetic neuralgia, which is persistent burning pain that can continue for months or even years.

For those few people with absence of proof of infection of chickenpox, the recommenda­tion is to give the chickenpox vaccine, and then the Shingrix vaccine.

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