A Doctor Explains Why Joe Rogan's Covid Treatment Plan Doesn't Make Any Sense

·2-min read
Photo credit: Stacy Revere - Getty Images
Photo credit: Stacy Revere - Getty Images

When comedian and mega-podcaster Joe Rogan announced yesterday that he’d contracted Covid over the weekend, he quickly segued into talking about how he’d treated the infection. “We immediately threw the kitchen sink at it – all kinds of meds,” he said. The list included Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic that’s been controversially and contrary to evidence hyped as a Covid cure.

That certainly raised eyebrows among anyone following the history of Ivermectin, but it wasn’t the only surprising thing on Rogan’s list. As Doctor Mike Varshavski explains, a few of Rogan’s choices don’t make much sense – at least based on what we know of his condition.

Varshaki starts with monoclonal antibodies, saying it’s primarily used for people who’ve already contracted Covid, and are at a high risk of hospitalisation; it’s a preventative treatment given to keep high-risk patients out of the hospital. (It’s unclear how bad Rogan’s condition got, though he says he “only had one bad day.”)

Monoclonal antibodies are an accepted treatment for people who’ve already contracted the virus, but Rogan then lists Ivermectin, widely discredited as a treatment. Varshaki notes that some people, unable to get prescribed Ivermectin, have started taking animal equivalents. “Folks, do not do this. It is incredibly dangerous,” he says.

Next on Rogan’s list is Z-Pak, a brand name for azithromycin, an antibiotic. As Varshaki explains, that choice is a bit of a head-scratcher: Using an antibiotic (which kills bacteria) to treat a virus (which is not a bacteria) doesn’t make a lot of sense. Rogan may have had an underlying pneumonia, Varshaki suggests, but otherwise using Z-Pak to treat Covid isn’t medically supportable.

Rogan also used Prednisone, a steroid that, Varshaki explains, is mostly used in severe Covid cases to reduce inflammation. Otherwise, he says, prednisone probably won’t help blunt the illness.

Finally, there are vitamins and NAD-IV, which Varshaki lumps together as basically snake oil treatments. “I actually pulled up a website here with NAD therapy,” he says, “and the promises they make are absolutely absurd.” He reads a long list, saying that there’s no evidence for any of the claimed benefits.

Besides being mostly unhelpful, Varshaki explains, Rogan’s “kitchen sink” approach is a problem because it complicates an already complex picture, adding more treatments that can potentially interact in unexpected ways. The best way to combat Covid, he reiterates, is the cutting-edge science we already have – the vaccine.

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