15 Sep 2021

Bloomfield warns against social media Covid-19 misinformation

5:56 pm on 15 September 2021

The Director-General of Health has hit back at false social media claims on vaccines, natural immunity and the prescription medication Ivermectin.

POOL - Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield during the Covid-19 and vaccines update at Parliament, Wellington, on Day 5 of the Covid-19 Alert level 4 lockdown.  22 August, 2021  NZ Herald photograph by Mark Mitchell

Photo: Pool / NZME

Speaking at today's media briefing, where 14 new community cases were announced, Dr Ashley Bloomfield says there's been false claims on social media that people's natural immunity or vitamin C are sufficient enough to fight Covid-19 so there's no need to either get tested or vaccinated.

However, he says "this is not the case".

Bloomfield says there's huge support from doctors for the vaccination programme and just a very small number who don't agree.

"I want to emphasis the vast majority of doctors and other health professionals support our vaccination programme."

He reiterated his warning from yesterday that potential misuse of Ivermectin which hasn't been shown to be safe or effective for the treatment of Covid-19.

"This is an infectious virus that can cause serious and ongoing health problems, not just the acute infectious illness but ongoing Covid symptoms," Bloomfield says.

Medsafe says Ivermectin is a prescription medicine typically used to treat parasites in humans. It is also used for prevention of heartworm in small animals and treating parasites in various animals.

Earlier this month, it said " Ivermectin is not approved to prevent or treat Covid-19, which means that Medsafe has not assessed the safety and efficacy for this use. Inappropriate use of ivermectin can be dangerous".

Medsafe said when ingested in high doses, Ivermectin "can have a serious effect on humans, with symptoms including low blood pressure, worsening asthma, severe autoimmune disorders, seizures and liver damage".

Bloomfield says even though there have been relatively few cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, "we are up to date in terms of our knowledge and use of appropriate treatments and we have good processes in place to assess emerging new treatments".

On how the main treatments for Covid-19 work, Bloomfield says the virus causes two major issues - firstly is the viral attack on the body and the second is it can trigger an immune reaction. "So new treatments are now being investigated and used to cover both these areas," he says.

There are medicines that calm the reaction in some patients, such as dexamethasone, and there are also antibody treatments that help the body fight the virus.

Dr Bloomfield's comments come after the chief coroner said today there was no evidence an Auckland teenager's death is linked to their Covid-19 vaccination after claims on social media.

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