THE recent alarming upsurge of Covid-19 in the country, the very slow arrival of approved vaccines and the consequent delay in the implementation of the vaccination program have left many Filipinos clutching at straws in search of speedy relief.

News reports indicate that the Philippines may see 8,000 new Covid-19 cases daily by end of March with "serious surge" noted in NCR, and "very high" attack rates in Pasay, Makati, Navotas, and Santiago, Isabela.

Worse, at the current pace, former DOH chief Esperanza Cabral estimates it will take 12 years to inoculate 70 million Filipinos! The speedy arrival of the vaccines will no doubt ease the concern of citizens. So, Senator Panfilo Lacson is asking: With all the loans that the country has obtained to purchase them, where are the vaccines?

The desperation of many Filipinos is reflected in the ongoing "debate" in my Viber Group, consisting of my former Ateneo classmates. The issue is whether alternative remedies should be explored. The debate centers on the use of Ivermectin.

Ivermectin is a drug under the Essential Medicines List of both the Philippine FDA and the World Health Organization (WHO). However, it must be emphasized that it was approved as an anti-parasitic veterinary medicine.

The use of non-veterinary grade Ivermectin, according to the PRO Group, has been endorsed by the British Ivermectin Recommendation Development (Bird) panel. Bird reportedly recommends Ivermectin "to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with Covid-19 infection and to prevent Covid-19 infection among those at higher risk."

The PRO Group also cites the experiment of Dr. Allan Landrito, a fellow Muntinlupeño and relative, who is a frontliner in the City Health Department of Muntinlupa. Dr. Landrito reportedly has given it since May 2020 to approximately 8,000 patients and "nobody has died yet." Nothing to lose and everything to gain, said a member of the Viber Group, who was among 25 per cent who have already placed orders for Ivermectin.

Moreover, the vaccine is already available in the Philippines on a prescription basis.

Another classmate whose family owns a medical laboratory said: "The inventor of Ivermectin was given a Nobel Prize for medicine. Ivermectin is in the Top 3 best drugs ever invented, after penicillin and aspirin."

Doctors in our Viber group, however, are more cautious. Check first with your personal physician before taking Ivermectin. And so I did.

My physician, Dra. Lourdes Dorian-Diaz, has previously cleared me and members of my family to avail of Astra Zeneca or Moderna which are included in the Ayala Vaccine Immunization Plan (Avip).

Dra. Diaz, who is the Chairman of the Therapeutics and Medication Safety Committee of the Makati Medical Center, however, has this to say re Ivermectin.

1. FDA has not approved Ivermectin for use in treating or preventing Covid-19 in humans. Ivermectin is not an anti-viral (a drug for treating viruses).

2. Taking large doses of this drug is dangerous and can cause serious harm.

3. If you have a prescription for Ivermectin for an FDA-approved use, get it from a legitimate source and take it exactly as prescribed.

4. Never use medication intended for animals on yourself. Ivermectin preparations for animals are very different from those approved for humans.

A third group suggests a traditional option. "Here in Bohol, we have many "espiritistas" and talented "native doctors". They can easily deal with Covid-19, regardless of the variant. If US vaccines, Indian Ivermectin, Sinovac, Sputnik or the Israel medicine are not available, just give me a call. Here in Bohol, Covid-19 is peanuts."

MIRA and Other Essays

My book -- MIRA and Other Essays -- will be out soon -- both electronically and in print. It is a biographical collection of essays and articles written by me and others about me, my family, my work and about people and institutions who have touched my life.

As this will not be available in book stores, just let me know if you are interested to obtain a copy in either or both forms. Email me at It will be P350/copy (for the hard copy) plus a delivery charge of P200. A special discount is available for teachers and students.

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