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Don't fall for every Covid drugs sales pitch out there

February 28, 2022 | 06:47 pm PT
Quan The Dan Doctor
"I think I'm infected," a nurse in my department told me at the beginning of the day. I told her to get a quick test.

Colleagues began to gather to see the result, giggling as the colors filled the test indicator.

"It must be positive," one said with a mischievous grin, the humor dark as usual to cope with our often back-breaking workload.

But the laughter died seconds later as the T line went red. People quickly scattered, knowing what the test result meant: The coronavirus had finally succeeded in infiltrating our hospital.

For the past half a month we have been detecting a couple of Covid infections every day among the patients we receive.

We do everything we can for prevention: wearing masks, washing hands, avoiding unnecessary contacts, and getting tested daily. Evidently that is not enough.

Three months ago our hospital detected its first Covid-19 case, and authorities quickly moved in to barricade the place, with police officers patrolling the parameters.

Such lockdowns are no longer necessary as society shifted its coronavirus fighting approach and people have now been much more well-equipped to deal with it, both in terms of knowledge and resources.

Covid-19 is now no reason to panic. Or so it seemed.

The infected nurse returned home and asked an acquaintance to buy some drugs for her. I saw a photo she took of the drugs, which ranged from antipyretics and vitamins to nasal sprays and antibiotics, even green chiretta pills and methylprednisolone.

It was absolutely unnecessary to buy all that, and it was even more disappointing that a nurse did so. If a health worker can fall for it, who will not?

When I shared this story on my personal page, hundreds of people chimed in with their opinions, offering their own Covid prescriptions. Some asked me how one should deal with the infection.

After over two years of co-existing with the coronavirus, everyone has seemingly become an expert on the disease.

But uninformed, unverified advice only spreads confusion, uncertainty and fear as people are at a loss to know what drugs they should use for treatment and how much.

As the number of Covid cases rises every day, the medical system is also starting to feel the pressure.

Thus, it could be hours before someone in the ward picks up the phone to hear that someone has contracted Covid, and then their usual response is to "listen to the doctor". But no one tells them where to find a doctor.

So, naturally, they have to resort to other sources to get the information they need: friends, families, television, and the Internet.

But the sheer volume of information available, and the rampant misinformation, prove to be a problem.

Without being able to tell right from wrong, people easily fall prey to sales pitches. And not all of them have your best interests in mind.

I believe there are three issues that need to be addressed.

Firstly, the official guidelines from authorities for Covid treatment are simply too confusing or inaccessible.

For instance, the website of the Ministry of Health does have information about Covid-19 treatment, but it is too academic even for experts in the field to understand, let alone laypeople.

It needs to be translated into something that is easily accessible to the populace.

Secondly, some people do not believe that Covid can go away on its own. So, instead of trusting doctors' advice not to load up on various drugs, they go to pharmacies and buy the most expensive ones they can find.

I have seen people test positive and immediately buy antibiotics, corticoids and even anticoagulants out of fear.

Thirdly, some use so-called folk remedies that are not scientifically proven as being effective. It is not difficult to go online and find traditional medicines made from herbs, even high dosages of vitamins, being touted as "natural" Covid cures.

Somehow authorities have failed to tell the public if these products can be trusted.

There is no universal prescription for every Covid case, and there probably will not be one in the future either. So I and my fellow doctors try our best to tell people to pay heed to verified medical sources and not panic.

If authorities are too swamped to help everyone, people can refer to reputable websites and health experts they trust for advice.

The good thing is that most Covid infections now are mild thanks to widespread vaccination. If the disease never progresses to the point of hospitalization, patients can simply treat themselves at home.

But remember, do not fall for drug sales pitches.

Stick to facts, stay calm and your test result will turn negative in no time.

*Quan The Dan is a doctor at the Becamex Binh Duong Covid-19 Intensive Care Field Hospital. The opinions expressed are his own.

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