Oxford to study anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin's efficacy for Covid treatment
Ivermectin has been used by self-medicating individuals and doctors in many countries including Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and South Africa. Earlier this year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended against the use of Ivermectin in treating patients with Covid
A new trial involving the use of the anti-parasitic drug ‘Ivermectin’, for use in cases involving people at a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, has been announced by a team of researchers from Oxford University.
Aiming to investigate the efficacy and safety of the drug, the trial has already recruited more than 5,000 volunteers.
Earlier this year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended against the use of Ivermectin, in treating patients with Covid.
According to the WHO, there is a "very low certainty of evidence" relating to the drug’s effect on mortality, the requirement of a patient’s admission to a hospital and ridding a patient of the virus.
"Safety and efficacy are important when using any drug for a new indication. WHO recommends against the use of ivermectin for COVID-19 except within clinical trials," said Soumya Swaminathan, the global health body’s chief scientist, in a tweet published on May 10 which has been since deleted.
While previous studies on the drug’s usage show that early administration with ivermectin can help reduce viral load and the duration of symptoms in some patients with a mild case of Covid, such studies have generally been small or of low quality.
Despite all this, Ivermectin has been used by self-medicating individuals and doctors in many countries including, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and South Africa.
"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," Professor Chris Butler, from the University Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, said in a statement.
"By including Ivermectin in a large-scale trial, 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," he added.
As part of the trial, more than 5,000 volunteers from across the UK will randomly be assigned to receive a three-day course of the Ivermectin treatment. This will be followed for 28 days, and a comparison will be done between the volunteers receiving the drug and the rest who will be receiving the usual standard of National Health Service care.
The eligible people from the UK can join the trial easily either online, over the telephone, or via a GP practice. All this can be done without the need for a face-to-face visit with the trial team in Oxford.
Those who are taking treatments that are known to interact with the drug Ivermectin, or patients suffering from severe liver disease, who are on the blood-thinning medication warfarin, will be excluded from the trial.
(With inputs from agencies)