An anti-parasitic drug called Ivermectin is going to be trialled by a group of researchers at the University of Oxford as a possible COVID treatment that patients can take at home. Although it is currently unproven, several people in Latin America and South Africa have been self-medicating their COVID symptoms with this drug.
What is Ivermectin?
Ivermectin is normally used to treat parasitic infections like river blindness—that is caused by flies—and roundworm infections. In higher doses, the drug has been found to kill viruses in petri dishes. Results from observational studies have also revealed its efficacy but they are not sufficient enough to begin prescribing the drug to COVID patients. Professor Chris Butler, from the Oxford's Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, says:
Ivermectin is readily available globally, has been in wide use for many other infectious conditions so it’s a well known medicine with a good safety profile, and because of the early promising results in some studies it is already being widely used to treat Covid-19 in several countries.
To find more concrete evidence, Oxford’s Principle study is now going to trial Ivermectin in people over the age of 50. Researchers hope that the drug can drastically reduce the number of hospital admissions in the country. The team has already examined six other drugs that can be taken by COVID patients at home, but only one has proved to be effective so far—inhaled steroid budesonide.
All participants will be given an Ivermectin treatment for three days alongside other patients who will receive standard NHS care and they’ll be observed for a 28-day period. Professor Butler adds:
By including Ivermectin in a large-scale trial like Principle, we hope to generate robust evidence to determine how effective the treatment is against Covid-19, and whether there are benefits or harms associated with its use.