Ivermectin is a potent macrocyclic lactone obtained from Streptomyces avermitilis. It is Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) approved antiparasitic drug used to treat onchocerciasis, helminthiases, and scabies. It is
intended for animal use and recommended for humans at an approved dosage level. It is an amazingly successful
antiparasitic medication with known partial efficacy against several single-strain RNA viruses.
In March 2020, a study carried out by a team of researchers in Australia put forward the idea of Ivermectin as a potent inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2. Under ideal lab conditions, Ivermectin resulted in a 5,000-fold reduction of Sars-CoV-2 RNA within 48 hours through inhibition of viral IMP / 1-mediated nuclear import, which reduced the replication of the virus in the early stages of infection and thereby the viral load. The concentration of the drug needed to kill the virus in the lab was many times higher than that found in the blood of people using Ivermectin to treat parasitic diseases. Therefore, evidence on the efficacy and safety of Ivermectin for preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 treatment is conflicting.
As of December 15, 2021, 84 studies are evaluating Ivermectin to treat COVID-19, of which at least ten have been completed with results. There is still a dearth of robust, randomized controlled trials to conclude.
Yet the media picked up this research and ran a story in late April 2020, stating the emergence of Ivermectin as a possible option for COVID-19. This led to a worldwide upward trend in web search for Ivermectin. Moving along, in September 2021, Joe Rogan, host of the most popular podcast on Spotify, ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’ announced that he had tested positive for Covid-19. He sparked condemnation after disclosing that he had used Ivermectin, among other medications, to treat his symptoms. Rogan was not alone as several politicians and talk show hosts promoted it, and as a result, prescriptions for the drug soared to record levels in the US.
In South Africa, many patients desperately wanted access to Ivermectin despite the vaccine rollout.There was a death reported due to the use of Ivermectin for treating COVID- 19.The American Medical Association (AMA) called for an immediate end to Ivermectin for treating the virus. In a blog post shared by FDA on its official website, titled, ‘Why you should not use Ivermectin to treat or prevent Covid-19’, stated that, Ivermectin is approved at specific doses for some parasitic worms and is not antiviral. An investigative report by Dr. Kyle Sheldrick uncovered that many studies on Ivermectin were manipulated or straight-up fabricated. Hence, we still do not know if Ivermectin is useful in treating COVID-19 at all. It seems that substandard research during COVID-19 personally impacted many people. If we can fix this unconstrained spread of misinformation, we might avoid repeating the mistakes when the next pandemic strikes.
Atharv Sawant & Kanchan Gite
Final Year B. Pharm.