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Egypt's drug authority warns against hoarding and overdosing on vitamins to fight coronavirus

Some complaints have recently surfaced about the difficulty to find some medications, including vitamins C, D, and zinc, in pharmacies

Mohamed Soliman , Thursday 4 Jun 2020
A medical worker wearing a protective face mask and gloves takes the free medicines provided by the
A medical worker wearing a protective face mask and gloves takes the free medicines provided by the ministry of health to people who are in contact with those who have contracted the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a medical centre in Cairo, Egypt June 3, 2020. (Reuters)
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The Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA) said on Thursday there is no protective protocol for coronavirus, adding that overdosing on medications and vitamins without prescriptions has grave side effects.

"There are currently no medications that have proven efficient for the prevention against or treatment of coronavirus and the authority does not recommend self-medication with any drugs, including antibiotics, whether to protect against or treat Covid-19," the EDA stressed in a statement on Thursday.

The EDA's call came one day after Egypt's health minister Hala Zayed appealed to all nationals to not stockpile medicines, especially immunity drugs, to guarantee they are available for all patients. Zayed also urged pharmaceutical companies' representatives to multiply production, particularly of immunity drugs, to meet citizens' needs.

Some complaints have recently surfaced about the difficulty to find some medications, including vitamins C, D, and zinc in pharmacies, after some social media users -- including doctors and pharmacists -- highlighted their significance as assistant factors to help the immune system fight coronvirus.

The drug authority reiterated the health ministry’s appeal to not hoard immunity medicines, nutritional supplements and vitamins, particularly those included in the Egyptian treatment protocol for the fast-growing disease.

"This may cause a shortage in these drugs and inflict harm on patients," the drug authority warned.

The authority appealed to physicians and pharmacists to not publicise any recommendations or prescriptions on the respiratory illness via social media, warning them against causing complications and side effects for citizens.

The EDA's red-flag is not the first of its kind as the Egyptian medical syndicate in March called on its members to not prescribe any drugs for any patient through social media without conducting the medical examination.

Posting treatment for COVID-19 patients on social media could lead to undesirable consequences and cause shortage of some important drugs for other diseases as well, the syndicate emphasised.

The drug authority said that getting too much vitamin D could lead to general weakness, kidney problems, vomiting and nausea, in addition to causing arrhythmia when taken with the Digoxin drug.

According to the EDA, having excessive amounts of zinc in the body could lead to influenza-like symptoms, changes in normal smell and taste sense, vomiting and nausea, in addition to lowering blood sugar levels.

The same happens when it comes to overdosing on vitamin C, the EDA said, adding that it causes headaches, insomnia, diarrhea, and other symptoms.

It also has a negative effect on children's health during pregnancy and lactation, and could increase the risk of death from heart diseases for diabetics.

Egypt's COVID-19 treatment protocol for mild patients includes vitamin c and zinc along with other drugs and antibiotics, according to a document published by the health ministry earlier this week.

The government launched an app, Sehet Masr (“Health of Egypt"), through which the health ministry has urged Egyptians to increase the amount of vegetables and fruits containing vitamin C and A to ameliorate the immune system.

Egypt has recorded a total of 28,615 coronavirus infections and 1,088 deaths until Wednesday.

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