The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
Ivermectin, an FDA-approved anti-parasitic agent, has been found, in the laboratory, to inhibit the replication of the virus that causes Covid-19. In South Africa, it is not registered for human use and there are reports of people resorting to the veterinary version. A black market has developed. Earlier this month, Johannesburg-listed Ascendis Health distanced itself from the human use of its Ivermax 1%, an antiparasitic remedy for livestock. Eustace Davie, health policy expert at the Free Market Foundation, says it doesn’t make sense that Ivermectin, a medicine listed by the World Health Organisation as essential, is banned in South Africa. He explains why politicians are in breach of the Constitution by banning the drug. – Jackie Cameron
Eustace Davie on Ivermectin:
I became aware of it – that it had been banned in South Africa – and I was very puzzled. Because it’s a drug that’s been around for a long time. The person who got a Nobel Prize for discovering the drug, Satoshi Ōmura, he did that about 30 years ago. It’s very much later that he got the Nobel Prize. But this drug has been used extensively in Africa, mainly through the agency of the WHO. They started that in 1995, and set up an organisation called APOC (African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control). Onchocerciasis is a terrible worm that gets under your skin and causes absolute havoc and destroys people.
On the uses of Ivermectin:
It has been used for all sorts of things, on a huge scale. I mentioned some of the things it has done. The achievements reported by the APOC. 100,8 million people being regularly treated with Ivermectin. 22 countries reported that distribution of Ivermectin was carried out by 697,921 community directed distributors. These were ordinary people being taught how to distribute the drugs and did so. More than 1,8 billion Ivermectin tablets produced and delivered to the communities. More than 522 million treatments provided to communities between 1997 and 2012.
The efficacy of Ivermectin:
The number of infected persons was reduced, from 39,9 million to 15,7 million. A reduction of 24,2 million infected people. Now, this is just remarkable. How our Health Department and the products regulatory authority did not know about this, I do not know. All I did was go to the WHO and found all this information, telling us that this drug is safe. That’s the first thing. They are talking about requiring clinical trials. The one thing they don’t have to check on, is the safety. Millions of people have been treated with it.
The World Health Organisation wouldn’t go and poison a lot of people in Africa. They were saving them from a dreadful disease. We here in South Africa have now to deal with Covid-19 and desperately we need treatment for people who get Covid-19. But in other parts of the world, other people are having the same problem with the regulators and the governments who instead of starting programmes to treat people and save them from being infected with Covid-19, they are hampering it.
On the safety of Ivermectin:
Well, to my mind, the question is, is the drug safe? Yes. It is a safe drug to use in South Africa. I think it’s unconstitutional for the Department of Health to prevent people from buying the drug for themselves and treating themselves. They’re not going to kill themselves. They might get a bit ill if they react to the drug.
But our Constitution says that everyone has the right to freedom and security of the person. It’s their business. What they take to keep themselves healthy and it clearly includes the right not to be deprived of freedom arbitrarily. People in South Africa are being deprived of their freedom. They’re deprived of their freedom to use a very amazing drug – it has been called a miracle drug – to save themselves and get themselves healthy.
On whether the drug could cause more harm to those with Covid-19:
Specialists overseas are saying that if you start taking Ivermectin when you become infected, it clears you in four days. Of course, it’ll be a better idea to go to your doctor and get your doctor to treat you and maybe add a couple of other drugs that will help help the process. But in West Africa, Ivermectin was being distributed to people to save them from that terrible disease – the river blindness disease. I would think that rather than trying to hold back on these things, it should be distributed as it was in West Africa.
On the Covid-19 vaccine:
With Covid-19 vaccines, what period has there been for research on the consequences? For taking the vaccine or having it injected into you? Are we saying that we have a drug that has, over decades proved itself, which is to be withheld from the people who want to use it? Yet a vaccine would be introduced that has had a very short period. And vaccines, they can do harm over a long period of time. Just make that comparison. It is totally wrong.
On why this is important for the Free Market Foundation:
Well, we’ve got a health policy unit and our health policy unit works very hard to put forward better ways of handling healthcare in South Africa – more economical ways of doing it – and mostly to leave it to the private sector. What should happen, is that delivery of healthcare should be totally in the hands of the private sector – who have shown that they do it much more efficiently than the public sector.
I think that is has become a given now. The idea to place the efficient private sector under control of the inefficient public sector [is] a travesty. What could happen if the healthcare is all private? Government can purchase healthcare for the poor and needy. They can purchase it from an efficient private sector who can vie with each other for the government business of looking after the poor people of this country. [Ivermectin] is widely available for the treatment of animals. But humans should not take the animal capsules, because they are not put together in the same way as Ivermectin for human use.
- Covid resurgences likely before ‘substantial proportion’ of SA population is vaccinated, says Madhi
- Inside Covid-19: Will you be fired if you refuse vaccine? Can your employer insist? Legal insights
- DA wants clarity on South African Covid-19 vaccine programme
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.