Ivermectin, a medication traditionally used to treat parasites, is possibly the most talked about medication in the world right now, seen by many as a Rambo-like saviour possessing the unique potential to terminate the Covid pandemic. Evidence that Ivermectin can liquidate coronavirus in a test tube by inhibiting viral replication, re-ignite powerful immune system fortifying proteins called interferons that have been incapacitated by the presence of coronavirus, stop the virus from primarily entering our cells, prevent clotting, quell inflammation that destroys our lungs and abort the ‘cytokine storm, ‘ coronavirus’s lethal endgame that has culminated in a swathe of fatalities worldwide, has morphed into a global embrace of this plausibly miraculous drug as a vector to finally halt one of the darkest chapters in humanity’s history.
In the race to overpower an enemy that has the singular ability to mutate at will in order to survive and overcome any roadblock that the universe’s smartest and most intrepid scientists have devised it’s not surprising that so many have turned to Ivermectin as their primary hope for evading this menace. What has emerged is the development of what resembles a heavyweight title fight between those who have championed the powers of Ivermectin as a medicinal behemoth versus those scientific titans who claim that Ivermectin is attempting to punch way beyond its reach questioning the science behind these claims.
Those in the Ivermectin corner would site the studies showing that amongst many positive outcomes taking Ivermectin 12mg once weekly over a 3-month period resulted in no infections amongst 788 health care workers, versus 58% of the 407 controls who became ill with COVID-19. Similarly in another report showing that for 234 health care workers who took 12 mg once weekly, only 3.4% contracted COVID-19 versus 21.4% of those who did not. In a randomised control trial from Dhaka, Bangladesh the intervention group (n = 58) took 12 mg once monthly for a 4-month period and also reported a large and statistically significant decrease in infections compared with controls, 6.9% versus 73.3%. A number of trials on those who have been hospitalised with severe Covid infections show comparable benefits, with Ivermectin significantly diminishing viral load, preventing deterioration, ramping up recovery time and reducing mortality rates. For treating Long Covid, a debilitating condition characterized by fatigue, shortness of breath, brain fog and muscle pain, a trial in Peru has demonstrated that taking between 14-28mg of Ivermectin daily for 2 days lead to resolution of all symptoms in 87.9% of patients.
To counter these impressive results an alternate group of scientists have reflected on those studies which do not indicate that Ivermectin is beneficial, a study conducted in Colombia for example where an in-hospital group receiving Ivermectin fared no better than those receiving a placebo. They also claim that to neutralise Ivermectin with the same efficacy that was achieved in a test tube a dose nine times the FDA approved amount would need to be taken. An expert Cochrane review panel of experts widely considered the pinnacle of scientific evaluation who have examined all the research on Ivermectin to date have concluded that ‘based on the current very low- to low-certainty evidence, we are uncertain about the efficacy and safety of Ivermectin used to treat or prevent COVID-19. Overall, the reliable evidence available does not support the use of Ivermectin for treatment or prevention of COVID-19 outside of well-designed randomized trials.’
Probably as a result of these recommendations the National Institute of Health in America which oversees all medical decisions in that country found that there was insufficient evidence to support the endorsement of Ivermectin for prevention or treatment of coronavirus. And to illustrate how steamy and conflicted the debate has become an alternate group convened in the UK drew the exact opposite from the evidence they looked at and ‘found the certainty of evidence for Ivermectin’s effects on survival to be strong and they recommended unconditional adoption for use in the prophylaxis and treatment of COVID-19.’ They went on to suggest ‘that Ivermectin should be globally and systematically deployed in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.’
So where does that leave us and the multitude who want to turn to Ivermectin for possible succour? In Australia the Therapeutic Goods Administration has warned against using Ivermectin and strongly discourages self-medication and self-dosing with this medication for COVID-19. In this regard when ordering online for example it is deemed by this organisation to be dangerous but it is not clear if off-label prescribing is frowned upon or not. University of Oxford scientists are currently embarking on a clinical trial to explore whether giving Ivermectin to people with Covid symptoms can keep them out of hospital. Called ‘The Principle study’ it will compare those given the drug to patients receiving the usual NHS care. Principle joint chief investigator Prof Richard Hobbs has said that it would be “premature” to recommend Ivermectin for Covid but if this study proves to be successful this could shift the momentum back in Ivermectin’s favour and provide huge cheer for those who are clamouring for its liberation.