Is Ivermectin the “miracle drug” that could end the Covid-19 pandemic?

The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 has caused massive disruption to most people’s lives – and loss of life around the world from Covid-19.  However, one of the positives of the pandemic has been the dedicated research into ways to prevent and treat this new viral infection; research which has encompassed nutrients such as vitamins C and D and the mineral zinc [1] as well as medications such as hydroxychloroquine [2] and ivermectin.

Ivermectin is an antiparasitic medication that was invented in the 1970s and is used to treat conditions such as River Blindness and scabies in humans (and there are also formulations available to treat parasites in livestock).

Interest in ivermectin as a possible treatment for Covid-19 began after test tube studies showed the medication was very effective in inhibiting the replication of SARS-CoV-2. [3]

Trials began to see whether this medication could make a useful treatment for Covid-19 and overall the evidence looks positive, as can be seen from a one page summary of the research to date on the website of the Covid Critical Care Alliance website. [4]

One of the more noteworthy trials relates to the use of ivermectin as a preventative treatment for Covid-19.  This study, known as the IVECAR trial, was carried out in Argentina and people working in the health system were assigned either to a comparator arm (and were not given the study medications) and others assigned to take ivermectin and a nasal spray containing the seaweed extract carrageenan* for 14 days. (All health care workers in the study used PPE in accordance with normal practice when caring for Covid-19 patients.)  The results were impressive.  Quoting from the study:

“The overall infection rate in health care workers recruited for this study was 20% with 237 testing positive for CoVid 19 during the 3 month study recruitment. Of those infected, all patients were from the comparator group of using PPE alone. This represented an overall infection rate of 58.2% ( 237 of 407) in the PPE group. No patients of the 788 treated with IVERCAR tested positive for CoVid 19 during the study.”   [Emphasis added.] [7]

A study of patients who were hospitalised with Covid-19 also showed encouraging results with a subgroup of patients who had “severe pulmonary involvement” who received ivermectin having half the mortality rate of those who did not receive ivermectin. (These ivermectin treated patients had 38.8% mortality rate versus 80.7% of comparably ill patients who did not receive this medication.)

Most of the patients in the study received other medications as believed appropriate for their condition.

The study authors summarised the results of the study as follows:

“Analysis showed statistically significant lower mortality rates in the group treated with ivermectin as compared with the group treated with usual care (15.0% vs 25.2%).” [8]

Like many medications that can be useful in treating Covid-19, it appears that ivermectin is most useful when given earlier in the course of a SARS-CoV-2 infection rather than waiting until a patient is so ill that he or she needs to be admitted to hospital.  

It seems that the use of ivermectin as a prophylactic (preventative) treatment or using it as an antiviral in early stage Covid-19 could halt the Covid-19 pandemic and save many lives (and many livelihoods given that in many parts of the world, people’s jobs and businesses are threatened by ongoing lockdowns). 

At the video at the link below you can see Pierre Kory, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at St. Luke’s Aurora Medical Center, speakin during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing “Early Outpatient Treatment: An Essential Part of a COVID-19 Solution, Part II.”

It’s well worth watching. 

And it seems that the efforts of Dr. Kory and his colleagues have had a positive effect based on this link: https://covid19criticalcare.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/FLCCC-Alliance-Response-to-the-NIH-Guideline-Committee-Recommendation-on-Ivermectin-use-in-COVID19-2021-01-18.pdf

Closer to home, Australian Professor Thomas Borody, who is famous for curing peptic ulcers using a triple antibiotic therapy was quoted in August 2020 as saying:

“An Ivermectin tablet can cost as little as $2 – which could make it by far the cheapest, safest, and fastest cure for Australians and the Australian economy. This needs to be available for aged care facilities and frontline health workers today.” [7]

GPs who would like to learn more are invited to email the Center for Digestive Diseases “to obtain the dosing protocol and COVID-19 treatment information for their patients.” [7]

With new, reportedly more infectious strains of SARS-CoV-2 having emerged recently, and NZ being warned that another lockdown could be instituted [6] if there is community spread of these strains, there is an urgent need  for preventative and therapeutic options to combat Covid-19. 

Ivermectin is a prescription medication here in NZ [9] and there seems to be no reason why border protection staff and other people at high risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 should not be being offered the choice of using this treatment.

Postscript: Please note that Ivermectin is not the only treatment option for Covid-19 – a factsheet on some of the different treatments may be found at this link: https://therealnews.nz/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Fact-Sheet-on-TREATMENT-OPTIONS-FOR-COVID-19-including-references-and-notes-1-1.pdf

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References and Notes:

[1] https://covid19criticalcare.com/medical-evidence/additional-medicines/

[2] https://www.americasfrontlinedoctors.com/treatment-protocols/

[3] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166354220302011

[4] https://covid19criticalcare.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/One-Page-Summary-of-the-Clinical-Trials-Evidence-for-Ivermectin-in-COVID-19.pdf  The Covid Critical Care Alliance website also has a regularly updated PDF on ivermectin for the prophylaxis or treatment of Covid-19 and it is here:  https://covid19criticalcare.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/FLCCC-Ivermectin-in-the-prophylaxis-and-treatment-of-COVID-19.pdf

[5]  “Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Topical Ivermectin + IotaCarrageenan in the Prophylaxis against COVID-19 in Health” Journal of Biomedical Research and Clinical Investigation, Volume 2 Issue 1.1007 Full text available here:  https://www.medicalpressopenaccess.com/upload/1605709669_1007.pdf

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7550891/

[7] https://www.bloomberg.com/press-releases/2020-08-19/ivermectin-triple-therapy-protocol-for-covid-19-to-australian-gp

[8] https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/covid-19-coronavirus-lockdown-expected-if-uk-or-south-african-variant-found-in-community-expert/ZDZKWHQTJOPBPFGDRKUZW4SRNA/

[9] Ivermectin is a prescription-only  medication in NZ and the datasheet for the medication is available here:  https://medsafe.govt.nz/profs/datasheet/s/Stromectoltab.pdf