From vaccines to Ivermectin, local experts answer readers’ coronavirus questions

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

See how we got here and what’s the best way to keep you and your family safe.

The pandemic has lasted for nearly 18 months, but rather than waning, Ohio is in the throes of another surge in cases.

Readers continue to have many questions about how we got here, the Delta variant, vaccines and more. So the Dayton Daily News assembled a panel of trusted local experts, including doctors and pharmacists, to answer your questions on a regular basis. This article answers some of the most common questions we’ve received from readers in recent weeks.

Jump to questions (click a question below to go directly to it on this page):

  • Dr. Mamle Anim, chief medical officer for Five Rivers Health Centers.
  • Gregory Braylock, RPh, pharmacy manager at Zik’s Family Pharmacy in Dayton.
  • Dr. Roberto Colón, chief medical officer at Miami Valley Hospital.
  • Dr. Robert W. Frenck Jr., professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, director of the Gamble Center for Vaccine Research and the immunization program medical director of the Ohio American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Dr. Nancy Pook, Kettering Health Emergency Medical Director.

Other experts on our panel for this project are:

  • Dr. Michael Klatte, chief of infectious disease at Dayton Children’s Hospital.
  • Dr. Alonzo Patterson III, pediatrician with PriMed Physicians.
Caption
Dr. Nancy Pook, Kettering Health Emergency Medical Director

Dr. Nancy Pook, Kettering Health Emergency Medical Director
Caption
Dr. Nancy Pook, Kettering Health Emergency Medical Director

 

Q: How did we get here? Why is there another wave of cases and hospitalizations again?

Frenck: The low vaccination rate is what is leading to the increase in hospitalizations and deaths. Since January 2021, 97.5% of COVID-related hospitalizations and 99% of COVID-related deaths are in people who are not vaccinated. While there have been breakthrough infections in vaccinated people, their disease has been mild.

Pook: The virus has mutated to create new variants. This is not unique to coronaviruses, and we see this same pattern with the flu and other viruses. Fortunately, the vaccines have remained effective against severe disease, but as many people remained unvaccinated, there was room for spread. In addition, the Delta variant spreads more efficiently, allowing for more people to become infected from contact with a single infected person.

Colón: Unfortunately, we got here because of a combination of factors. We still had, and continue to have, too many people who did not follow through with vaccination, leading to many more people being fully vulnerable to infection and more severe disease. The rise of the Delta variant added an extra set of problems, as this variant has proven much easier to spread. Lastly, this summer was the first time when a return to near full activities occurred without the use of masks. Recall that the CDC recommendation was for those unvaccinated to continue masking in certain situations. This recommendation was largely ignored. These factors combined were the main drivers behind the rapid and sustained rise in cases. If you look in detail at who is ultimately being hospitalized with COVID during this wave, the overwhelming majority of the cases, as has been the case for most of the year, are occurring in people who have not been vaccinated. Vaccines remain the best manner of protection from developing severe manifestations from COVID-19.

Caption
Dr. Robert W. Frenck Jr., professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, director of the Gamble Center for Vaccine Research and the immunization program medical director of the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Robert W. Frenck Jr., professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, director of the Gamble Center for Vaccine Research and the immunization program medical director of the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Caption
Dr. Robert W. Frenck Jr., professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, director of the Gamble Center for Vaccine Research and the immunization program medical director of the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

 

Q: What is the Delta variant and is it more dangerous?

Frenck: Viruses mutate. The Delta variant is a mutation of the original COVID. It appears to be more infectious, which means if a susceptible person is exposed, it is more likely she/he will be infected. The disease caused by Delta is the same. You just seem to have a higher chance of getting sicker.

Caption
Dr. Roberto Colón, chief medical officer at Miami Valley Hospital

Dr. Roberto Colón, chief medical officer at Miami Valley Hospital
Caption
Dr. Roberto Colón, chief medical officer at Miami Valley Hospital

 

Q: I hear the survival rate for coronavirus is high, especially among kids. Why should my kids and I get the coronavirus vaccine?

Colón: Fortunately, most people do indeed survive their battle with COVID-19. However, what is often overlooked is that as many as half of patients who develop COVID-19 go on to suffer persistent manifestations beyond their initial symptoms. These can include persistent shortness of breath, fatigue or muscle pains. In some cases, the prolonged problems can be more significant, as some patients with severe illness who do survive may even require lung transplantation due to the extent of damage they suffer from the initial infection. While children have indeed fared better than adults, we are seeing an alarming trend with more children than ever before contracting COVID-19. In the last week, more than 20% of all new COVID-19 cases are occurring in those under the age of 18. Equally concerning is the fact we are also seeing more hospitalizations for children with COVID-19 than we had seen before, as well as various hospitals in other states seeing vastly limited pediatric ICU capacity. Children are also susceptible to multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). This potentially devastating process can develop after COVID-19 and can affect the heart, kidneys and other organs. The worry is that this has been seen in children with mild or even asymptomatic infections, demonstrating that survival from infection is not necessarily the only marker to assess the impact of COVID-19 on our health. As in adults, vaccines remain the best way to help protect children from the dangers of COVID-19, including those that follow the acute illness. It is safe, it is effective and it is our best weapon against this viral threat.

Caption
Gregory Braylock, RPh, is the pharmacy manager at ZIKS Family Pharmacy.

Gregory Braylock, RPh, is the pharmacy manager at ZIKS Family Pharmacy.
Caption
Gregory Braylock, RPh, is the pharmacy manager at ZIKS Family Pharmacy.

 

Q: How can I know the coronavirus vaccine is safe for me and my children?

Pook: The vaccine has been carefully tested, starting as far back as spring of 2020. In addition to the millions of people who received the vaccine under the EUA, the original participants are being closely monitored for adverse effects. In terms of heart health, stroke risk, and risk of blood clots, receiving the vaccine is safer than contracting COVID-19.

Braylock: The way to know that the vaccines are safe for you and your children is by looking at the work and the advice from the best scientific minds in the world and the statistics and the profile of the vaccines. The best and most knowledgeable group of scientists, researchers and medical professionals are right here in the USA. That’s why the world looks to us for medicinal leadership. The FDA ensures that any drug brought to market must be safe and effective. These vaccines and their scientific processes (mRNA) have been through many years of rigorous testing and studying. Hundreds of millions of doses have been given of these drugs and the adverse effects have been absolutely minimum. However, the effectiveness of these vaccines has been astounding. The Delta variant is the most infectious and aggressively harmful COVID-19 variant seen to date. It is attacking and harming the unvaccinated population, with a few exceptions. Is it safe for you and your children? The answer is yes. But my question to you is: Do you think it is safe for you and your children to be in an unsafe Delta environment without proper protection of a vaccine, and knowing that if you are not vaccinated, you are now in the direct path of the storm ... the Delta variant?

ExploreMiami Valley Black medical professionals: COVID vaccines safe, important
Caption
Dr. Mamle Anim, chief medical officer for Five Rivers Health Centers.

Dr. Mamle Anim, chief medical officer for Five Rivers Health Centers.
Caption
Dr. Mamle Anim, chief medical officer for Five Rivers Health Centers.

Explore3rd COVID vaccine shot: Who can get it now and where to get it here
 

Q: Does Ivermectin treat or prevent COVID-19?

Recently, some national politicians and media personalities have claimed that a drug called Ivermectin could prevent or treat COVID-19, and that it is not being studied or offered due to politics.

The CDC has issued an official health advisory, cautioning, “Ivermectin is not authorized or approved by the FDA for prevention or treatment of COVID-19,” and stating that the National Institutes of Health have found insufficient data to recommend it for use against the disease. In a joint statement this week, the American Medical Association, American Pharmacists Association, and American Society of Health-System Pharmacists said they “strongly oppose the ordering, prescribing, or dispensing of Ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19 outside of a clinical trial.”

Anim: Ivermectin has not been shown to be of any benefit in the treatment of COVID-19. In fact, it has been found to be harmful and worsen the outcome of the infection, including death. There are numerous evidence-based clinical trials that have proved it should not be used for the treatment of COVID-19 and the CDC and FDA have strongly advised against it.

Braylock: The primary use for Ivermectin, according to the FDA, is for the prevention of heartworms in small animals, and the prevention and treatment of other parasites (worms) in large animals, such as horses and cows. However, there is a tablet form of the drug approved by the FDA for human use for intestinal worms and also a topical form (prescription only) that is approved for external parasites such as headlice and a few skin conditions such as rosacea. With that being said, never should humans use drugs intended for animals. Using drugs intended for animals can be harmful to the health of humans and in some cases lethal. Manufacturer or prescriber’s directions should always be followed and obtaining your drugs should always be by way of a legitimate source such as a health care provider. Ivermectin has not been proven to be safe, nor effective, against COVID-19 . It cannot treat nor can it prevent COVID-19. Again, this drug can hurt you!


Have questions about COVID-19, face masks, vaccines, testing, quarantining or anything else pandemic-related? Send them to jordan.laird@coxinc.com.Answers will be published regularly in print and online.

MEET THE LOCAL EXPERTS

Here’s who will be answering your questions over the next several weeks.

  • Dr. Mamle Anim, chief medical officer for Five Rivers Health Centers.
  • Gregory Braylock, RPh, pharmacy manager at Zik’s Family Pharmacy in Dayton.
  • Dr. Roberto Colón, chief medical officer at Miami Valley Hospital.
  • Dr. Robert W. Frenck Jr., professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, director of the Gamble Center for Vaccine Research and the immunization program medical director of the Ohio American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Dr. Nancy Pook, Kettering Health Emergency Medical Director.
  • Dr. Michael Klatte, chief of infectious disease at Dayton Children’s Hospital.
  • Dr. Alonzo Patterson III, pediatrician with PriMed Physicians.

About the Author

ajc.com