The Delta Caucus has received several reports that people in some east Arkansas counties are using a parasitic worm treatment to treat COVID-19. In Arkansas, Prairie, and White counties, several people have been using invermectin to treat the virus and it is dangerous, Caucus Director Lee Powell said.
Dr. Kevin Stephens warns of the urgency of getting vaccinated as soon as possible with the potential increase in the life expectancy gap between black and white Americans possibly being as much as 40% due to Covid-19. African Americans are at higher risk from the virus, according to analysis of the data.
As of Thursday afternoon, there have been at least 310,000 confirmed cases in the state. an estimated 5,200 people have died in Arkansas from the virus since its spread began in March. More than 425,000 vaccines have been distributed across the state.
Invermectin is a medication occasionally used in humans to fight parasitic worms, and more commonly used to fight parasites in animals. The FDA advises that this practice is potentially harmful and warns against its use to treat or prevent Covid-19.
“We urge people in the Delta to follow the science and listen to qualified experts like Dr. Kevin Stephens, a distinguished medical doctor based in New Orleans who played vital health care roles during Hurricane Katrina, the oil spill and other health crises, on the urgency of getting vaccinated,” Powell said. “Dr. Stephens advises that the gap in life expectancy between black and white Americans could increase from 3.6 years to more than 5 years, or approximately 40%, if vaccinations do not proceed as rapidly as possible.”
Powell said that his organization has talked to many in the white and black communities and there is still strong opposition to taking approved vaccines. At the same time, many of these people are willing to take unproven treatments to combat the virus. Vaccines have been less available to minority communities, according to numerous published reports.
“We are of course sensitive to the disturbing history of discrimination against African Americans. This is not related, however, to the urgent need for everyone, including African Americans, to get vaccinated ASAP. The vaccines are safe and passed rigorous clinical trials,” Stephens said.
Harvey Joe Sanner, Delta Caucus senior adviser from Des Arc, advises that some people in Prairie, White and Arkansas counties are taking invermectin for Covid-19 and it’s primarily in the white community. Invermectin can cause serious side-effects and is occasionally prescribed to treat parasitic worms in humans but more often used to treat animals against heartworm disease. The FDA strongly warns against its misuse to fight the virus.
Sanner and all Delta Caucus partners are urging colleagues in the region to take the approved vaccines and not take un-approved medications like invermectin. Sanner said he had taken the first does of the Moderna vaccine and had no side-effects other than a slightly sore arm.
“I’m looking forward to my second dose,” Sanner said.