APR 03, 2022 8:49 AM PDT

Another Study Shows Ivermectin Does Not Treat COVID-19

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

A recent, large study has determined that ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug, does not effectively reduce the risk of hospitalization during COVID-19, a disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The findings have been reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (teal) infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (purple), isolated from a patient sample. Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Credit: NIAID

This research followed the outcomes of over 3,500 people in Brazil who tested positive for COVID-19, and had at least one risk factor for severe disease. No one in the trial had been ill for more than seven days. In this study, several therapeutics were being tested; 679 patients received a placebo, while 2,157 received a treatment of some kind. There was also a group of 679 patients that received ivermectin, which is an anti-parastic drug typically prescribed by veterinarians. Ivermectin has been used for years to eliminate parasitic worms from animals. There are human formulations of ivermectin but they are usually only prescribed to treat roundworm infections. The drug works by interfering with chloride channels on helminthic parasites.

Patients that received ivermectin in this trial initially got one-day doses, then the researchers opted for a three day dose based on feedback from advocates. Ivermectin has been "widely promoted" as a COVID-19 treatment in Brazil (without evidence), the study authors noted.

This research study was a double-blind, randomized trial. It confirmed previous studies reported earlier this year by other research groups; Ivermectin should not be used as a treatment for COVID-19. The drug did not lessen a patient's chances of needing to go to the hospital, and it did not shorten their stay if an individual was admitted to the hospital.

A handful of very small studies that have reported success against COVID-19 by using ivermectin have been flagged by other researchers for poor study design and unreliable conclusions. Some other reports have been retracted completely. Unfortunately, many people have still sought to use the drug. Some have resorted to taking the version that is made for animals.

The Food and Drug Administration has repeatedly warned people not to use ivermectin for animals to fight COVID-19. The drug has side effects, and can cause vomiting, abdominal pain or nausea, neurologic disorders and sometimes, severe hepatitis that requires hospitalization.

Sources: New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA Internal Medicine, JAMA

About the Author
BS
Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
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