Jamaican Doctors stage an Ivermectin uprising

Contribution – Part 121/21 # 13)

Why are leading doctors in Jamaica rising up and challenging officialdom there to facilitate widespread use of Ivermectin to treat Covid-19?

Summary of stages of the Covid-19 disease: [I] catching an infection, [II] attacking the lungs, [III] extreme reaction by the immune system  (Adapted from Siddiqi, HK, and Mehra, MR. 2020​).

BRADES, Montserrat, August 25, 2021 –  Yes, many of Jamaica’s Medical Doctors have risen up to demand that Ivermectin be widely used in treating Covid-19. For example, on May 20th this year, a circle of leading Doctors – who claimed to “represent many other doctors in both public and private practice” – published[1] an open letter to Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Hon. Christopher Tufton, which asserted that “[w]hile Ivermectin[‘s] efficacy has been demonstrated in the management of all stages of Covid, we draw particular attention to its use in the early stage of the disease.” They also argued that:

“In our carefully considered opinion, the available data on Ivermectin is quite adequate.[2] There is no need to await the outcome of further trials. Any call for local trials prior to approval is unnecessary, as neither time, resources, nor ethical approval would permit.[3]

We need not await WHO approval of the use of Ivermectin for treatment of Covid-19. The WHO, unfortunately, has been slow, and sometimes incorrect, in its assessment and advice on various aspects of the pandemic and specifically so in relation to its current stance on Ivermectin. Several medical jurisdictions in various countries are proceeding to include Ivermectin in their Covid-19 treatment strategies.[4]

Please note that Emergency Use Approval has been granted from health regulatory authorities, including WHO, and FDA, for the clinical use of other treatment regimes (Remdesivir, Convalescent Plasma, Monoclonal Antibodies, etc.) with far less research and data support compared with Ivermectin.”

 The group includes Dr. Michael Banbury, Chief Executive Officer, Medical Associates Hospital and Medical Center [a leading private Hospital in Kingston, Jamaica] and Trinidad-born Professor Brendan Bain, Consultant Physician and Infectious Disease Specialist, who pioneered the region’s fight against AIDS as well as several other consultant Doctors. 

As early as April 1st, a Gleaner report[5] indicated how:

“Doctors in private practice, with the support of pharmacists, continue to prescribe the antibacterial, antifungal drug Ivermectin for patients with adverse COVID-19 symptoms despite the Ministry of Health and Wellness not giving the drug its blessing to treat the illness . . . . the doctors . . . continue to swear by the drug, pointing out that they have been prescribing it to their patients for months with great results . . . . None of the doctors has lost patients who have taken the drug, they say.”

Of course, that was in the early days, and doubtless, some treated with Ivermectin have died since as numbers built up. There are no 100% effective treatments against Covid-19 and so we must recognise that there are several treatments to be evaluated on a case by case basis. Vaccination is clearly one, Ivermectin is another. Indeed, arguably, even the much derided Hydroxychloroquine, Azithromycin, and Zinc cocktail with vitamins D and C as yet another. (Yes, there is a continuing body of evidence that such a cocktail works in the early stage of Covid-19, but that is not our focus here.) 

The point is, in the face of a fast-moving pandemic that threatens to become a globally endemic disease – likely with a new Covid strain each year – we should balance our options and not bureaucratically lock out any reasonable treatments.

One of the co-signatories of the May 20th letter, Consultant Surgeon Mr. Charles Royes[6], went on to write, in a June 18th letter to the Gleaner[7] commenting on Minister Tufton’s answers to questions in Parliament:

“1. Safety – The minister stated that a conservative position is being taken to guard the Jamaican public against the possible dangers involved in the use of Ivermectin. The reality is that Ivermectin is a safe drug – safer than penicillin and the other antibiotics in common use, safer than aspirin and, the data suggest, safer even than Panadol. And, without doubt, safer than Remdesivir, which the ministry has approved. The safety issue should be put to bed.

2. Efficacy – Although there is a difference of opinion on this aspect, most of the studies to date show some degree of efficacy against COVID-19. Depending on the type of study, its size, limitations, and constraints, the power of its conclusions may vary. Some speak with a louder voice than others, but all point in the same direction – positive for efficacy. At the very least, the evidence indicates a possible significant benefit.”

He then went on to reveal how:

“Some months ago, the National Health Fund (NHF) arm of the ministry [of Health] imported a quantity of Ivermectin from a supplier in the United States and, in doing so, presumably succeeded in providing the necessary information to allow for its approval. However, following on the minister’s assurances, efforts by a private company to import the very same product, from the very same supplier, were denied by the Standards and Regulations Department. Instead, a long list of requirements was provided. Assuming that the NHF provided adequate data, why the insistence on further information? It should be noted that the product from this supplier has FDA and WHO approval.”

That’s bureaucratic obstructionism and such hypocrisy is without excuse in the face of a pandemic.

As regards disavowal of Ivermectin by Merk, Royes gave a fair comment observation:

“4. Reference to Merck – Merck Pharmaceuticals, the original manufacturer of Ivermectin, no longer has a patent on production. They can no longer compete with low-cost manufacturers and have no financial interest in the drug. Instead, Merck has committed millions of dollars towards the development of another drug, Molnupiravir, which it hopes to market as a treatment for COVID-19. Early in the pandemic, Japan requested Merck to conduct clinical trials with Ivermectin and they declined.”

His conclusion is sobering:

“In a further discussion in Parliament, the minister said, “his side” of the House was unwilling to take the risk of endorsing Ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19. This risk, as far as the safety of the drug is concerned, is, according to the data, minimal. However, the risk involved in failing to use or facilitate the use of possible effective treatment is being implicitly accepted by the Government. This should be recognised and remembered.”

Perhaps, as we who are in Montserrat begin our new conversation on Covid-19, we should consult with the Jamaican Doctors. Who, clearly, are not “armchair instigators.”


[1]See, Gleaner: https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20210520/doctors-back-ivermectin-covid-19-fight

[2] TMR note, e.g. see https://covid19criticalcare.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/FLCCC-Ivermectin-in-the-prophylaxis-and-treatment-of-COVID-19.pdf  

[3] TMR note, that is, given the fast-spreading, deadly pandemic.

[4] TMR note, see https://www.themontserratreporter.com/ivermectin-some-population-level-evidence/

[5] See https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20210401/docs-still-pushing-ivermectin-covid-nod

[6] Strictly, Surgeons (yes, including our well-known “Dr. Lewis”) are “Mr.”

[7] See https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/letters/20210618/letter-day-why-resistance-ivermectin

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Contribution – Part 121/21 # 13)

Why are leading doctors in Jamaica rising up and challenging officialdom there to facilitate widespread use of Ivermectin to treat Covid-19?

Summary of stages of the Covid-19 disease: [I] catching an infection, [II] attacking the lungs, [III] extreme reaction by the immune system  (Adapted from Siddiqi, HK, and Mehra, MR. 2020​).

BRADES, Montserrat, August 25, 2021 –  Yes, many of Jamaica’s Medical Doctors have risen up to demand that Ivermectin be widely used in treating Covid-19. For example, on May 20th this year, a circle of leading Doctors – who claimed to “represent many other doctors in both public and private practice” – published[1] an open letter to Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Hon. Christopher Tufton, which asserted that “[w]hile Ivermectin[‘s] efficacy has been demonstrated in the management of all stages of Covid, we draw particular attention to its use in the early stage of the disease.” They also argued that:

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“In our carefully considered opinion, the available data on Ivermectin is quite adequate.[2] There is no need to await the outcome of further trials. Any call for local trials prior to approval is unnecessary, as neither time, resources, nor ethical approval would permit.[3]

We need not await WHO approval of the use of Ivermectin for treatment of Covid-19. The WHO, unfortunately, has been slow, and sometimes incorrect, in its assessment and advice on various aspects of the pandemic and specifically so in relation to its current stance on Ivermectin. Several medical jurisdictions in various countries are proceeding to include Ivermectin in their Covid-19 treatment strategies.[4]

Please note that Emergency Use Approval has been granted from health regulatory authorities, including WHO, and FDA, for the clinical use of other treatment regimes (Remdesivir, Convalescent Plasma, Monoclonal Antibodies, etc.) with far less research and data support compared with Ivermectin.”

 The group includes Dr. Michael Banbury, Chief Executive Officer, Medical Associates Hospital and Medical Center [a leading private Hospital in Kingston, Jamaica] and Trinidad-born Professor Brendan Bain, Consultant Physician and Infectious Disease Specialist, who pioneered the region’s fight against AIDS as well as several other consultant Doctors. 

As early as April 1st, a Gleaner report[5] indicated how:

“Doctors in private practice, with the support of pharmacists, continue to prescribe the antibacterial, antifungal drug Ivermectin for patients with adverse COVID-19 symptoms despite the Ministry of Health and Wellness not giving the drug its blessing to treat the illness . . . . the doctors . . . continue to swear by the drug, pointing out that they have been prescribing it to their patients for months with great results . . . . None of the doctors has lost patients who have taken the drug, they say.”

Of course, that was in the early days, and doubtless, some treated with Ivermectin have died since as numbers built up. There are no 100% effective treatments against Covid-19 and so we must recognise that there are several treatments to be evaluated on a case by case basis. Vaccination is clearly one, Ivermectin is another. Indeed, arguably, even the much derided Hydroxychloroquine, Azithromycin, and Zinc cocktail with vitamins D and C as yet another. (Yes, there is a continuing body of evidence that such a cocktail works in the early stage of Covid-19, but that is not our focus here.) 

The point is, in the face of a fast-moving pandemic that threatens to become a globally endemic disease – likely with a new Covid strain each year – we should balance our options and not bureaucratically lock out any reasonable treatments.

One of the co-signatories of the May 20th letter, Consultant Surgeon Mr. Charles Royes[6], went on to write, in a June 18th letter to the Gleaner[7] commenting on Minister Tufton’s answers to questions in Parliament:

“1. Safety – The minister stated that a conservative position is being taken to guard the Jamaican public against the possible dangers involved in the use of Ivermectin. The reality is that Ivermectin is a safe drug – safer than penicillin and the other antibiotics in common use, safer than aspirin and, the data suggest, safer even than Panadol. And, without doubt, safer than Remdesivir, which the ministry has approved. The safety issue should be put to bed.

2. Efficacy – Although there is a difference of opinion on this aspect, most of the studies to date show some degree of efficacy against COVID-19. Depending on the type of study, its size, limitations, and constraints, the power of its conclusions may vary. Some speak with a louder voice than others, but all point in the same direction – positive for efficacy. At the very least, the evidence indicates a possible significant benefit.”

He then went on to reveal how:

“Some months ago, the National Health Fund (NHF) arm of the ministry [of Health] imported a quantity of Ivermectin from a supplier in the United States and, in doing so, presumably succeeded in providing the necessary information to allow for its approval. However, following on the minister’s assurances, efforts by a private company to import the very same product, from the very same supplier, were denied by the Standards and Regulations Department. Instead, a long list of requirements was provided. Assuming that the NHF provided adequate data, why the insistence on further information? It should be noted that the product from this supplier has FDA and WHO approval.”

That’s bureaucratic obstructionism and such hypocrisy is without excuse in the face of a pandemic.

As regards disavowal of Ivermectin by Merk, Royes gave a fair comment observation:

“4. Reference to Merck – Merck Pharmaceuticals, the original manufacturer of Ivermectin, no longer has a patent on production. They can no longer compete with low-cost manufacturers and have no financial interest in the drug. Instead, Merck has committed millions of dollars towards the development of another drug, Molnupiravir, which it hopes to market as a treatment for COVID-19. Early in the pandemic, Japan requested Merck to conduct clinical trials with Ivermectin and they declined.”

His conclusion is sobering:

“In a further discussion in Parliament, the minister said, “his side” of the House was unwilling to take the risk of endorsing Ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19. This risk, as far as the safety of the drug is concerned, is, according to the data, minimal. However, the risk involved in failing to use or facilitate the use of possible effective treatment is being implicitly accepted by the Government. This should be recognised and remembered.”

Perhaps, as we who are in Montserrat begin our new conversation on Covid-19, we should consult with the Jamaican Doctors. Who, clearly, are not “armchair instigators.”


[1]See, Gleaner: https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20210520/doctors-back-ivermectin-covid-19-fight

[2] TMR note, e.g. see https://covid19criticalcare.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/FLCCC-Ivermectin-in-the-prophylaxis-and-treatment-of-COVID-19.pdf  

[3] TMR note, that is, given the fast-spreading, deadly pandemic.

[4] TMR note, see https://www.themontserratreporter.com/ivermectin-some-population-level-evidence/

[5] See https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20210401/docs-still-pushing-ivermectin-covid-nod

[6] Strictly, Surgeons (yes, including our well-known “Dr. Lewis”) are “Mr.”

[7] See https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/letters/20210618/letter-day-why-resistance-ivermectin