People infected with COVID-19 are now using packs containing the antiparasitic drug Ivermectin and vitamins C and D as home treatment, and Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh says it is contributing to deaths.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram will write to the Medical Association and the Pharmacy Board on this issue. During yesterday’s Ministry of Health COVID-19 Update, Deyalsingh said this treatment was not World Health Organisation (WHO) approved and has no clinical proof of efficacy.

“People are dying at home after paying these huge amounts of money for something that is no better than snake oil,” Deyalsingh said.

Deyalsingh said doctors at Accident & Emergency (A&E) Departments asked him to raise the issue. He said after doctors review patient notes there were concerns about people’s continued reliance on Ivermectin. Based on his information, people pay up to $30,000 for a COVID-19 treatment of Ivermectin and oxygen at home. He said doctors find this untenable and ask people using oxygen at home to go to a public health facility.

Of the COVID-19 deaths, Technical Director of the Epidemiology Division, Dr Avery Hinds, said only 6.4 per cent of COVID-19 victims died at home. Hinds said a small number occurred at private health facilities. Most deaths occurred at A&E departments at public hospitals and the Parallel Healthcare System.

The Health Ministry is also taking measures to further clamp down on the production and use of false immunisation cards. Deyalsingh said there was a meeting of the COVID-19 Task Force, which included ACP Williams. He said the ministry would implement further controls but preferred not to discuss it publicly.

While the ministry intends to allow the use of COVID-19 test kits at home, Parasram advised people that if they get a positive result, they should confirm it with a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. The home kits are rapid antigen tests that allow users to know whether the virus is present in their bodies within a short time.

However, Parasram said these tests are not often accurate and can give false negatives and false positives.

Meanwhile, the weekly cumulative data for November and December shows a rise in cases peaking in December, followed by smaller weekly totals. Hinds said how people chose to get tested may have influenced the decrease. December ended with 20,538 cases, the highest for 2021.

Yesterday the country recorded 22 COVID-19 deaths and 579 new infections.