Scientists from the UK, Italy, Spain and Japan claim a significant reduction in mortality, time to recovery and viral clearance in COVID-19 patients treated with Ivermectin but WHO has recommended against its general use
The Goa government’s decision to administer the drug ivermectin to all the people above 18 years as a preventive treatment amid the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted medical experts to question the efficacy of the five-day duration of the drug regimen.
Goa State Health Minister Vishwajit Rane has said, “Everyone above the age of 18 years in Goa will be allowed to use Ivermectin drug irrespective of their corona virus status to bring down mortality”. The minister said this treatment would not prevent COVID-19 infection but it can help reduce the severity. “The Ivermectin 12 mg tablet will be made available in all the district, sub-district, PHCs, CHCs, sub-health centres, rural dispensaries for people to collect and start treatment immediately, irrespective of any symptoms or anything,” Rane said. Goa on Monday recorded 2,804 new cases of coronavirus, taking its tally to 1,21,650, while 50 more fatalities pushed the toll to 1,729.
Dr Vinayak Buvaji, head of the Goa chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), said that the treatment should not be given for a short period of five days but should ideally be continued till the pandemic is brought under control. “The ideal regimen of ivermectin is to administer it on the first, third and seventh day and then continue it once a week till the pandemic is brought under control. Giving the tablets only for five days will not be impactful,” said Dr Buvaji. He also advised against giving the same quantity of the dose to all the people. According to him, “The people weighing below 60 kg should be given the 12 mg dose of ivermectin while those above 60 kg should be given the 18 mg dose”.
Ivermectin is not recommended in Covid-19 treatment by the FDA, the European Medicines Agency, and the United States National Institutes of Health – all of which have stated that better studies and larger trials are needed to determine if the drug has any actual benefits.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also warned against the use of Ivermectin for Covid-19, except within clinical trials. Dr Soumya Swaminathan, WHO chief scientist, tweeted on Tuesday May 11, 2021, “Safety and efficacy are important when using any drug for a new indication. WHO recommends against use of ‘ivermectin’ for COVID-19 except within clinical trials”.
Dr Swaminathan attached a statement from Merck, on Ivermectin use during the Covid-19 pandemic. On February 4, Merck – the Germany company that manufactures ivermectin, said, “there is no meaningful evidence for clinical activity or efficacy in patients with COVID-19 disease, identified during analysis at this time”. The company added that “the data available supports the safety and efficacy of Ivermectin beyond the doses and populations indicated in the regulatory agency”.
What is Ivermectin?
Ivermectin has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a prescription medicine against parasitic roundworm infections. The common anti-parasitic Ivermectin is being hailed as a possible cure for Covid-19 by doctors and other care experts across the world. A peer-reviewed research paper, written by three US government senior scientists, published in the American Journal of Therapeutics (AJT), claimed that Ivermectin is effective prophylaxis and treatment for Covid-19.
Ivertin effect on Covid-19 patients
Scientists claim the regular use of Ivermectin can cut the risk of contracting corona virus. The AJT research paper, which is the most comprehensive review of the data available on Ivermectin so far, also suggests the regular use of Ivermectin can reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19. The research paper analyzed three RCTs (randomised controlled trials) and five observational controlled trials, including 2,500 patients. Scientists also claim Ivermectin can lead to a significant reduction in mortality, recovery time and viral clearance.
How safe is Ivermectin?
Though approval for the drug as a possible cure against coronavirus is still at the research level, the FDA is yet to review the data related to Covid-19 patients given Ivermectin. Also, the FDA has warned against the consumption of Ivermectin in large quantities.