Can Ivermectin Be Used In The Treatment Or Prevention of COVID-19?
The pandemic has led to many changes in the pharmaceutical world as the vaccine roll-outs become more vigorous with countless research ongoing to find a solution to this unexpected infectious crisis. Among the possible solutions named for the treatment band prevention of COVID-19 is ivermectin. However, does it work?
Current Evidence for the Use of Ivermectin in COVID-19
Let us quickly dissect the evidence and facts that we have now!
As of this moment, ivermectin is only approved for human use to treat infections that are caused by head lice, parasitic worms, and skin conditions such as rosacea. We also know that ivermectin has not been approved for any indication in relation to COVID-19 for either humans or animals by the drug regulatory bodies such as the Malaysian Drug Control Authority (DCA), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or the European Medicines Agency (EMA). There are trials running ahead to test how effective ivermectin is against COVID-19. However, the results available are insufficient to advocate for the usage of ivermectin in our fight against the ever-evolving pandemic.
But then there might be a voice that says: what’s the harm of trying? It’s an emergency after all.
Harms of Taking Unindicated Ivermectin
Taking any medication for a condition that it is not indicated for is dangerous. But ivermectin in particular can be lethal, especially in large doses. It works by paralysing the parasites that cause a certain condition thereby leading to its death. Given the vicious nature of its action, its side effects would indeed be hazardous. The consumption of ivermectin can therefore lead to experiencing adverse effects such as swelling in parts of the body, rash, lowered blood pressure, diarrhoea, vomiting, and pain in the stomach. In more severe cases, it can cause damage to the brain and nerves, coma, or even seizures.
We may also hear stories of how people use animal products of ivermectin to treat themselves arbitrarily. This is another critical concern as often animal products have not been tested on people and are in much larger doses than the human body can take. Additionally, ivermectin is known to interact with many other substances which can lead to a myriad of other unwanted side effects.
So why do people want to use ivermectin for COVID-19 in the first place?
Cause of Ivermectin Confusion in COVID-19
One of the reasons for this misconception stemmed from a mistake in a preprint for a paper, which had shown that ivermectin was effective in reducing the number of COVID-19 deaths. However, it was later revealed that there were many flaws and inconsistencies in the data that indicated that the results were very much untrue. At present, most of the reliable data that we have concerning ivermectin illustrates that it cannot be used for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 in humans. As such, ivermectin should not be used as an alternative or a stopgap measure against COVID-19.
What Can We Do to Protect Ourselves Against COVID-19?
Picture by: Gustavo Fring
In our fight against COVID-19, a good principle to follow is “prevention is better than cure.” To avoid contact with the virus, endeavour to practice good hand hygiene and social distancing as stipulated in each country.
Here at GEM Pharmacy, we have a terrific array of surgical masks, sanitizers (both alcohol-based and alcohol-free products), and disinfectants to help you go about your daily activities while keeping you safe.
Currently, the most effective intervention to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19 is vaccines. Regardless of individual opinions concerning the vaccinations, always ensure to make your decisions about your health are based on valid evidence. Remember:
'Your health is your greatest wealth.'
FDA. (2021). Why You Should Not Use Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent COVID-19. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/why-you-should-not-use-ivermectin-treat-or-prevent-covid-19
Ivermectin. (2021). In Australian Medicine Handbook. Retrieved from https://amhonline-amh-net-au.ap1.proxy.openathens.net/chapters/anti-infectives/anthelmintics/other-anthelmintics/ivermectin
Popp, M., Stegemann, M., Metzendorf, M.-I., Gould, S., Kranke, P., Meybohm, P., … Weibel, S. (2021). Ivermectin for preventing and treating COVID-19. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2021(8). https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD015017.pub2
Reardon, S. (2021). Flawed ivermectin preprint highlights challenges of COVID drug studies. Nature, 596(7871), 173–174. https://doi.org/10.1038/D41586-021-02081-W