Covid: Swiss health authorities warn people not to take horse medicine

Swissmedic, the country’s principal therapeutic medical agency, has warned people not to take medicine made for animals to treat Covid.

Swiss authorities have reiterated that horse medication is for horses, and people medication is for people. Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay
Swiss authorities have reiterated that horse medication is for horses, and people medication is for people. Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

Swissmedic said drugs designed to treat worms in horses were being imported into Switzerland based on online conspiracy theories that they are an effective treatment against Covid. 

The drug, with the active ingredient ivermectin, has been promoted by conspiracy theorists in the United States as a possible treatment for Covid. 

The conspiracy has become so widespread that veterinarians have asked people seeking the drug for proof they have a horse. 

Health authorities across the globe have reiterated that there is no evidence the drug is effective in treating Covid, although it remains effective for equine parasites. 

Swissmedic said on Tuesday that the “alleged miracle cure” should not be taken by humans. 

“Alleged miracle cure ivermectin: the antiparasitic has not been tested by Swissmedic. Be careful: anyone who takes ivermectin uncontrollably is putting their health at risk.”

In a statement, Swiss medic elaborated to say  “This includes illegal drug imports with drugs against worms and other parasites with the active ingredient ivermectin.”

Swiss authorities until this point had not considered the drug to be a problem domestically, however an increasing number of seizures by Swiss customs of the drug in recent weeks has prompted the warning. 

Swiss authorities have warned that people should not try and procure horse medication via the internet or bring it in from elsewhere and that medical treatments should come via the usual channels, i.e. doctors and pharmacies. 

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‘Over a million people’ in Switzerland could be infected with Covid this summer

Though Covid has not been a nationwide problem in Switzerland during recent several months, the virus is circulating again and rates of contamination are expected to soar in the coming weeks.

'Over a million people' in Switzerland could be infected with Covid this summer

While the new wave has not been expected to hit before fall or winter,  Swiss health officials now say 15 percent of Swiss population — more than 1 million people — could catch the virus before then.

This is a large number, considering that a total of 3.7 million people in Switzerland got infected since the beginning of the pandemic on February 24th, 2020.

“More than 80,000 new contaminations per week” are expected in the next two months, according to Tanja Stadler, the former head of the Covid-19 Task Force — much more than during the past two summers, when the rate of infections slowed down.

At the moment, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) reports 24,704 new cases in the past seven days — double of what it was in April.

“The numbers are expected to continue to rise. Note that most of infected people will not be tested, so the number of confirmed cases will be smaller on paper than in reality”, Stadler added.

Although according to FOPH, nearly all cases in Switzerland (99 percent) are caused by Omicron and its sub-variants, which are less severe that the original Covid viruses, “more vulnerable people are likely to end up in hospital, and long Covid cases are also likely to rise”, she said.

Stadler also noted that Omicron virus can’t be compared with the flu, “because we observe long-term consequences much more often during an infection with Omicron than during the flu. Also, Covid can trigger very large waves, even in summer, while large flu outbreaks are rare at this time of year”.

There is, however, some positive news.

“The most recent data shows that 97 percent of the adult population in Switzerland has antibodies against Covid thanks to vaccinations and previous infections”, Stadler said.

Also, “in the long term, things will stabilise. But in the years to come, there will probably be waves in the summer too”.

READ MORE: UPDATE: When will Switzerland roll out second Covid boosters?