Maui Coronavirus Updates

Maui Mayor and DOH Issue Statements About Unapproved COVID Treatments in County

August 25, 2021, 2:19 PM HST
* Updated August 26, 6:49 AM
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Background photo of Mayor Victorino. PC: Office of Mayor Michael Victorino / Akaku

State and county officials are both speaking out after recent media coverage about unapproved treatments for COVID-19 in Maui County.

On Wednesday, the Honolulu Star Advertiser published a story entitled: “Top state health official and doctor on Maui promote controversial COVID-19 treatments that FDA warns are dangerous and even lethal.” The story delved into the reasons why some who do not want to get vaccinated have opted for the treatment protocol.

 “I strongly condemn off-label use of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and/or the veterinary de-wormer ivermectin, as treatments for COVID-19. The FDA has not approved either of these drugs for treating or preventing COVID-19. Taking any drug for an unapproved use can be dangerous or lethal,” said Maui Mayor Michael Victorino.

According to the Mayor, more than 363 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the United States between Dec. 14, 2020 and Aug. 23, 2021, two million of these in Hawaiʻi.

“The vaccines have undergone, and continue to undergo, the most intensive safety monitoring in the nation’s history. Serious side effects are extremely rare. According to research from Vanderbilt University, the odds of dying from a COVID-19 vaccine reaction are about the same as being killed by lightning,” said Mayor Victorino.

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Earlier this week, the FDA fully approved the Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine. Mayor Victorino said that the approval came “because it met the agency’s high standards for quality, safety and efficacy.”

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“Science has proven vaccines offer the best protection from the coronavirus. While no vaccine provides 100% defense, the Pfizer vaccine is 88% effective against symptomatic disease and 96% effective against hospitalization caused by the Delta variant,” said Mayor Victorino.

“I remind Maui County residents that more than 95% of those hospitalized at Maui Memorial Medical Center are unvaccinated. Vaccines are the safest way to protect your health and the health of your loved ones.”

Hawaiʻi Department of Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char, FACEP also released a statement on Wednesday evening relating to the Pono Coalition for Informed Consent saying, “This week, COVID-19 took the lives of 19 Hawaiʻi residents. Over 9,000 of our family, friends, and neighbors are sick with COVID. The tragedy of this spike in cases is that by and large, it’s preventable. We have vaccines that will save the lives of Hawaiʻi residents.”

Photo: Dr. Libby Char. (8.13.21) PC: Office of Gov. David Ige
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“We listen to all sides in public health. We believe in dialogue. But in this case, the science is clear. More than 350 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered under the most intense safety monitoring in US history. The vaccine will protect you against severe illness, hospitalization and death,” said Dr. Char.

Dr. Char contends: “The Pono Coalition for Informed Consent is spreading misinformation about these lifesaving vaccines. This is dangerous. The Coalition proliferates misinformation about the severity of the disease and the safety of the vaccines. I want to be clear—hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin should not be used to treat COVID-19. Taking unprescribed large doses of ivermectin or doses intended for animals can cause serious harm.”

Health officials describe the current situation as a crisis. “COVID-19 will continue to take lives until we do the right thing and come together behind vaccination. Those with questions about the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines should seek information from official sources like DOH or the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Co-founders of the Pono Coalition for Informed Consent include Merlyn J. Travis and Maui District Health Officer Dr. Lorrin Pang, who participated in dialogue on the site as a private citizen. According to their website, the group does not provide medical advice and their seminar “is for educational purposes only.” The group also has a disclaimer on their website that says, “​Always consult with your doctor when seeking medical advice.”

According to the group’s website, “The Coalition advocates for true informed consent before taking the experimental COVID-19 vaccines, before authorizing for another, or before administering. We are not anti-vaccine, but pro-transparency. Our mission is simply to promote impeccable education on the benefits, risks and alternatives pertaining to the COVID-19 vaccines.” 

Statewide, there are 414 people hospitalized with COVID-19, (348 of them are unvaccinated/ 53 are fully or partially vaccinated), according to Lt. Gov. Josh Green. This is up +151% from the 165 hospitalizations reported on Aug. 5, 2021. The state’s positivity rate is now at 8.3%.

According to Maui Health, there are a total of 38 individuals hospitalized in Maui County with COVID-19, (30 are unvaccinated and eight are vaccinated) according to counts last updated on Aug. 25, 2021. Of that number, seven COVID patients are in the ICU and three are on ventilators.

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