In the maw of death sans ivermectin | Inquirer Opinion
Human Face

In the maw of death sans ivermectin

Text messages two days ago from a next of kin, a young, intrepid ER nurse in one of the big hospitals in Metro Manila: “Full capacity… nakapila mga ambulance and private cars outside. When I am the one assigned for triage outside, I have to tell many to find other hospitals because wala na talaga vacant. They beg and cry because super hingal na relative nila. It is really hard. Yesterday we had three who arrived, nag-cardiac arrest, minutes apart. We had to revive in the hallway which is really unsafe for everyone but there is just no more space.

“Grabe taas ng COVID cases and number of resignees among us. Mostly burned out na. Plus 10 to 13 positives in our staff. Our shifts have been extended because pilay na ang staff. Had my swab the other day. Negative.”


A silent prayer, please.

Do we have to call on moral theologians and bioethicists to weigh in on the ivermectin issue? Must we rouse the most afflicted COVID-19 patients who are in the maw of death to cry out from their sick beds, crowded hospital corridors, ERs, tents, and parked vehicles?


The debate on the efficacy of ivermectin as prophylactic and/or treatment against COVID-19 goes on. One big argument against it is that even its manufacturer, Merck, is said to not have endorsed its use for that purpose because ivermectin — human grade or not — had been meant for something else, not for COVID-19. There are medical experts who make known their objections while, on the other side, doctors who swear by its efficacy plead in order to save the lives of their very ill and dying patients, to give them a fighting chance. Never mind that their orthodox peers who go by the book might begin to look upon them as quacks.

And then there is the issue with the Food and Drug Administration which is about ivermectin’s expired registration which has not been renewed. A technical thing that shouldn’t be insurmountable.

Having read and heard the pros and cons from various sources, I, a concerned citizen, ask: If ivermectin has not been proven to have fatal effects on humans, only that it has not been thoroughly and scientifically tested by unbiased parties to prove its high efficacy against COVID-19, what is preventing anyone from testing it further? Or from using it on patients whose condition might still be reversed? Believers in ivermectin say they have used it with good results, but now they cannot have access to it or have been stopped from compounding it on their own.

All that in the context of the Philippines where a stunning surge of COVID-19 cases has been recorded at all-time highs in the past days since the pandemic began more than a year ago. Our Asian neighbors must be shaking their heads. Now we helplessly watch the health care system at near-breaking point, what with hospitals unable to accommodate COVID-19 sufferers and heroic health care frontliners severely exhausted, if not in short supply.

Behold the multitude awaiting emergency medical care, some dying or waiting in tents and vehicles.

While the nightmare unfolds, uppermost in my mind are the chemotherapy drugs, how highly toxic they are and yet they are administered to cancer patients in order to kill off remaining malignant cells even while healthy cells also get a severe beating, like having a Panzerkampfwagen attack roaring in one’s system. And yet these drugs, if used by specialists, are meant to save lives.

When you are drowning in a boiling sea, you grab any piece of flotsam to stay afloat until rescue comes.


In the case of ivermectin, why not give it a break with a caveat for and consent from the severely ill and their families? Might they die of it? What findings are there to show that ivermectin is, in fact, deadly? It could turn out ineffective but hopefully not lethal.

COVID-19-stricken former president Joseph Estrada is now fighting for his life. Might ivermectin work for him? (Former Manila mayor Alfredo Lim succumbed some months ago.)

Read “The last line in the sand” (, 4/1/21), a profound piece by Dr. Jose Emmanuel Martin Palo, director of the Acute and Critical Care Institute of The Medical City. Feel the stab in your heart.

“As COVID-19 surges and overwhelms the healthcare system, what are the chances of surviving or dying when hospital beds are no longer available, breathable air is running out, and the health care workers—the ones left—are beside themselves staring helplessly at life as it fades away? What choices are there to be made?”

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TAGS: coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus philippines, COVID-19 facilities, Human Face, Ma. Ceres P. Doyo
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