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'Insufficient evidence' around use of Covid-19 interventions, other than vaccines, Hiqa says

Hiqa said that being generally healthy may reduce the risk of “poor outcomes from Covid-19″.
Jun 23rd 2021, 1:12 PM 11,391 34

VACCINES CONTINUE TO be the “most effective safeguard” against Covid-19 while other interventions and treatments, such as the use of drugs like ivermectin, have a “lack of high quality evidence”.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) published its recent advice to the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) in relation to interventions and preventions for Covid-19.

It found that there is insufficient evidence for any other interventions, aside from Covid-19 vaccines, to prevent Covid-19 or reduce the risk of severe illness. 

Hiqa provides advice to NPHET to inform public health policy and advice around Covid-19.

A statement from the authority said: “While there are mixed results reported, in general maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, exercising often, being Vitamin D sufficient and moderating alcohol consumption, have beneficial effects on general health and may reduce the risk of poor outcomes from Covid-19.”

Other interventions were considered in the run-up to this advice. Hiqa identified five controlled drug trials, four of which focused on ivermectin and one around the use of bamlanivimab.

Ivermectin is conventionally used to treat parasitic worm infestations. The Journal has previously debunked claims around the use of this drug as an alternative to Covid-19 vaccines and as a treatment for the disease. 

The European Medicines Agency has advised against the use of ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of Covid-19 outside of clinical trials. 

Bamlanivimab is an immune therapy. The EMA said this drug can be considered a treatment option for Covid-19 in some instances. It hasn’t been approved to prevent the disease. 

Hiqa said it found insufficient evidence on whether these drugs can be safely used to prevent or reduce the severity of Covid-19 and has advised against the use of the drugs outside of clinical trials.

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The deputy CEO of Hiqa, Dr Máirín Ryan, said any interventions recommended to the public require “robust assessment to ensure that it is safe as well as being effective”.

“While we examined 51 studies, we identified a further 60 trials which are planned or ongoing,” Dr Ryan said in a statement. 

This review did not specifically look at Covid-19 vaccines, however, there are large high quality controlled trials as well as population-level data to show that they are effective in preventing serious disease.

“We would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to avail of the Covid-19 vaccine to do so, as it continues to be the most effective safeguard against serious illness due to Covid-19.”

NPHET had asked Hiqa to provide advice on questions around emerging evidence on interventions to prevent Covid-19 and to examine any lifestyle factors associated with a reduction in risk of infection or progression to severe disease.

Hiqa said the association between six health-related risk factors and Covid-19 outcomes were identified in 46 studies. The most common factors included being overweight/obese, smoking, vitamin D status and level of physical activity.

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