Evamectin, a controversial anti-parasitic drug considered a potential covid-19 treatment that does not accelerate recovery in people with mild cases of the disease, according to a randomized controlled trial published Thursday in the JMA Journal.
Ivermectin is commonly used to treat parasitic worms in both humans and animals, but the scientific evidence for its effectiveness against coronavirus is thin. Some studies have indicated that the drug can prevent a variety of different viruses from copying into cells. And last year, researchers in Australia discovered that high doses of ivermectin suppressed the virus that causes covid-1 in cell culture, SARS-Co-2.
Such findings, especially in Latin America, stimulated drug use against Covid-19.
A physician and researcher at the Center for Pediatric Infectious Diseases in Kelly, Colombia, Dr. “Evermectin is currently widely used,” said Eduardo López-Medina. “In many countries in the United States and other parts of the world, it is part of a national guideline for the treatment of covid.”
But medicine has also proved divisive. While some scientists see the potential, others suspect that extremely high, potentially unsafe doses may be needed to effectively prevent coronavirus. Health officials have also expressed concern that people desperate for coronavirus treatment may take versions of drugs made for pets. (It is commonly used to prevent heartworm in dogs.)
“There are many contradictory opinions on this, sometimes extremely contradictory opinions,” said Dr. Krishna Kumar, a researcher at the Institute for Global Health in Barcelona who was not involved in the new study. Said Carlos Checker. “I think it has become another hydroxychloroquine.”
But supporters and critics don’t have too hard data to support their views. There are few controlled trials of the drug’s effectiveness against Covid-19, although more are expected in the coming months. And the National Institutes of Health’s treatment guidelines note that there is insufficient evidence to “recommend against or against” the use of the drug in Covid-19 patients.
In a new study, Drs. López-Madina and her colleagues aggressively assigned more than 400 people who had just developed mild covid-19 symptoms, receiving a five-day course of ivermectin or placebo. They found that Covid-19 symptoms lasted about 10 days, and on average, there was a statistically significant difference between those receiving the drug and those receiving placebo for 12 days.
The new trial adds much-needed clinical data to the debate over the use of the drug to treat Covid-19, according to Harvard’s T. Chan School Public Health Public Health researcher Dr. Regina Rabinovich, who was not involved in the study, said.
But he noted that the trial is relatively small and does not answer most of the clinical questions, whether ivermectin can prevent serious disease or death. “The duration of symptoms may not be the most important for looking at clinical or public health parameters,” he said.
The researchers found that seven patients in the placebo group deteriorated after being reported in the trial compared to the ivermectin group, but this number was too small to draw a meaningful conclusion.
“There was a small sign, and it will be interesting to see if the sign we saw is real,” said Dr. López-Medina said. “But the big answer has to be tried.”
Dr. López-Medina also noted that the study population was relatively young and healthy, with an average age of 37 and a few of the underlying conditions that could make Covid-1 more dangerous.
The larger trials, which are currently underway, could provide clearer answers, said Dr. Rabin Binovich, who noted that he is “completely neutral” on the potential usefulness of ivermectin. “I just want the data because there is such chaos in the field.”