COVID-19 survivors at risk of new health issues - Persons overmedicating to ward off disease
COVID-19 has not only claimed more than a million lives around the world, but it is waging a mental and physical war on humanity, creating new and long-term, life-threatening health issues in previously healthy individuals who contract the dreaded virus.
Findings from several studies conducted around the world on the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on survivors range from temporary male infertility; the possibility that pregnant mothers may transmit it to the unborn child; new physical and mental health issues; and worsening of pre-existing medical conditions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, in an October 6 article, noted that individuals who were overweight or who had a history of smoking were at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Research is also now suggesting that respiratory distress requiring intubation and intensive care, and inflammation associated with the virus, may lead to diabetes, a non-communicable disease that afflicts a high percentage of Jamaicans.
According to the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey 2016-2017, diabetes was most prevalent among Jamaicans 75 years and older (42 per cent); 12 per cent among persons 15 years or older; among women, there was a pre-diabetes prevalence (13 per cent); and men 11 per cent. Between ages 15 and 74 years, the prevalence of diabetes was 12-10 per cent, compared to 7.8 per cent in 2007-2008, according to the survey.
One in two Jamaicans is classified as overweight, pre-obese or obese, according to the study.
“COVID-19 causes inflammation and this is associated with the development of type 1 and 2 diabetes. There can also be the development of lung disease, heart disease and thyroid conditions,” Dr Michael Boyne, professor of endocrinology and metabolism, and head of the Department of Medicine at The University Hospital of the West Indies, told The Sunday Gleaner.
The CDC noted that individuals with cancer; chronic kidney disease; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; heart conditions such as heart failure and coronary heart disease; immunocompromised state (weakened immune system); obesity; severe obesity; sickle-cell disease; smoking and type two diabetes are at increased risk of severe health challenges if they contract COVID-19. Pneumonia, it stated, was the most common diagnosis for individuals with severe COVID-19 infection.
Israeli scientist Dr Dan Aderka, speaking to the Jerusalem Post on October 7, suggested that COVID-19 could temporarily affect male fertility.
“Not only was the virus found within the sperm of 13 per cent of screened COVID-19 patients, but there was a 50 per cent decrease in the sperm volume, concentration and motility in patients with moderate disease 30 days post-diagnosis,” Aderka, from the Sheba Medical Center, reported.
Aderka’s study found that a small sample of “12 patients is shown to have demonstrated moderate to severe changes in the testicular cells supporting sperm development and those producing testosterone, the hormone that induces sperm division and multiplication”.
In July, an Italian study raised the possibility that the virus could be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy.
Weeks after contracting COVID-19, one local politician is happy he has not had any adverse side effects, and he is hoping it remains that way.
In fact, Julian Robinson, member of parliament (MP) for St Andrew South East, considers himself lucky for his quick recovery.
“I had a mild version of the virus and it did not require any doctor. I took a combination of home remedies that was given to me. I am not sure what it was, but I believe it included ginger,” Robinson told The Sunday Gleaner.
He attributed his speedy recovery to a healthy lifestyle regime developed over the years.
Playing his part to help fight the global pandemic, Robinson donated plasma. Convalescent plasma from patients who have already recovered from COVID-19 may contain antibodies against the disease. In an experimental trial, it is given to hospitalised persons fighting the disease in the hope that it may help them to recover.
FEAR LEADS TO OVERMEDICATION
With now 186 deaths and 8,670 persons infected with the coronavirus across the country now in the community spread phase, fear of contracting the disease is leading some Jamaicans to overmedicate.
Former president of the Jamaica Association of Private Pharmacies Owners, Rohan McNellie, said persons were stocking up on several over-the-counter medication and supplements.
“Vitamin C, black seed oil, cod liver oil, melatonin, zinc and medications that are known to improve the immune system have been moving very fast. But some persons make up their own prophylactic,” McNellie, owner of Three Angels Pharmacy, told The Sunday Gleaner.
And one naturopathic vendor said his special brew to steady the nervous system was also selling fast.
Some persons like Ronald Alney, a 63-year-old furniture maker from Molynes Road, St Andrew, said he makes his own “strengthening” products.
“I have aloe vera in my yard. Since this disease, I been doing more regular washout (cleaning out the system) because people my age a target. So I clean out myself,” he shared.
His special blend, he said, includes “soursop juice with a little rum and Supligen, Irish moss, dragon and milk with carrot.”
“I drink healthy. I eat fish and vegetables, but not as often as I would like because they expensive. I don’t get to eat so healthy, but I drink healthy. Plus, rum good for everything,” he disclosed.
Alney also recommended lots of sunshine. Older persons, he said, should be encouraged “to go outside for even 10 minutes of sun daily”.
Other COVID-19 fighting home remedies shared with The Sunday Gleaner include “rum, lime, ginger, honey and garlic, blended together, refrigerated and three tablespoons taken daily as preventative care”.
Jamaica will now be using Remdesivir – a drug on trial for the treatment of COVID-19, the Ministry of Health and Wellness announced earlier this month. Through the National Health Fund, the ministry plans to purchase 800 vials of the drug.
Although the World Health Organization said there were no benefits to individuals given Remdesivir for COVID-19, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said Jamaica would still acquire the drug, and he was supported by several pharmacists who lobbied for it to be available locally.
On Friday, Tufton said a shipment of the drug had arrived in the island.
United States Food and Drug Administration said Remdesivir was approved for Americans 12 years and older suffering acutely from the virus.