SINGAPORE — The parish priest of Church of the Risen Christ on Monday night (4 October) said he was saddened by reports that one of the church followers had been hospitalised after consuming antiparasitic drug ivermectin to prevent COVID-19 infection, and cautioned against using such unproven therapies.
His message came a day after Facebook user Vanessa Koh Wan Ling alleged that her mother had obtained and taken the drug, popularised by a number of US conservative media outlets as a cure for the coronavirus disease, on the advice of fellow churchgoers. Ivermectin is commonly used as a de-wormer for horses.
According to Koh's post, the unnamed woman had suffered several ailments after taking the drug, including the inability to walk and stand, and was sent to the hospital.
The woman had believed that the MRNA technology, which the vaccines in Singapore's national vaccination drive were based on, "was against their religion. That if they are allowed to take (MRNA vaccines), Jesus would reach out to them directly" and that "ivermectin will help to purge out the vaccine and COVID", according to Koh.
Parish priest Edward Lim called on "everyone to protect themselves from the COVID-19 virus by taking officially prescribed safety measures available to them" in his Facebook post on Monday night.
"Only accept vaccines approved by the authorities which are made available at accredited centres authorised to administer the jabs," he added.
He cited Archbishop William Goh, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Singapore, from a pastoral letter dated 3 February.
Goh had in the letter shared his experience of receiving his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and had encouraged “all the faithful to get vaccinated for the greater good of the community”.
But Lim also noted that the decision to be vaccinated "remains very much a personal choice", one that cannot be forced upon an individual.
"We encourage every individual to pray and discern over the decision, taking into account one's own health situation and vulnerability, as well as the social responsibility to one's loved ones and friends," he added.
The World Health Organization and other medical experts have recommended against using ivermectin outside of carefully controlled patient studies. Large studies are now underway in the US and other countries to determine if the drug has any effect on preventing or blunting COVID-19.
Yahoo News Singapore has reached out to the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) for comment.
HSA said in September that ivermectin is not approved for use in the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 here. It added that authorities take a serious view against those engaged in the illegal sale and supply of medicines including ivermectin.
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