Covid-19 has emerged as an elusive foe, threatening mankind. Currently India is placed second in terms of number of reported cases which warrants newer therapeutic treatment options that are widely available, affordable, effective and safe. There are newer drugs on the horizon which have been recommended though with very limited experience & devoid of enough data about safety and efficacy. These newer options are neither easily available nor affordable. “We have revisited some of the old molecules and have found ivermectin, originally introduced as an antihelminthic to be an effective, safe and affordable therapeutic option in Indian settings for prevention and treatment of COVID-19,” said Dr. Surya Kant, Professor and Head Department of Respiratory Medicine, at King George Medical University, Lucknow.
Dr Surya Kant, National Vice Chairman, IMA Academy of Medical Specialities, cited several studies in support of the effectiveness of Ivermectin in cases of SARs-CoV2 infection. According to a research paper published by Australia’s Monash University last year, the use of Ivermectin triggered 93% reduction in coronavirus load within 24 hours, a figure which reached 99.8% within 48 hours. As of now, 3.7 billion people have been treated with Ivermectin and hence proves to have profound safety profile.
Another research by Bangladesh Medical College Hospital, published last year, has shed a ray of light in portraying ivermectin’s astounding effectiveness as pre-exposure prophylaxis for COVID-19 among healthcare workers.
As per the recent findings from the results of 18 large-scale clinical trials on ivermectin in COVID-19 published by American Journal of Therapeutics, have found large, statistically significant reductions in death, time to clinical recovery, and time to viral clearance.
In July 2020, Dr. Surya Kant, with few other experts of India, wrote a white paper on ivermectin, which emphasized that ivermectin reduces the replication rate of the infection by several thousand times. It was only after this white paper when Uttar Pradesh government started using the drug. UP was the first state to use ivermectin, followed by which, government of West Bengal, Maharashtra, Assam & Kerala too included ivermectin in their protocol for the treatment of mild-moderate cases of COVID-19, no doubt this will benefit >40% of India’s population who belong to these states.
Recently in May, 2021, even, AIIMS/ ICMR-COVID-19 protocol also suggested taking ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19 when patients are under home isolation and also in all mild cases of the disease.
Currently more than 40 clinical trials are underway on ivermectin, including eight in India and not one has reported any major side effects yet. This includes the most prestigious institute in India i.e. AIIMS Delhi.
Said Dr. Surya Kant, Past President of Indian Chest Society: “ivermectin is a remarkable drug as it has proven to be highly effective in various stages of Covid Infection including pre- and post-exposure phase, the symptomatic phase and the pulmonary / inflammatory phase. In the recommended dosages, ivermectin is very safe. The drug, discovered way back in 1970, is already explored in several viral diseases like HIV, Dengue, Influenza and Zika.”
He added: “In these days of shortages of drugs like Remdesivir, which on many occasions do not work, there is surplus supply of ivermectin in the market and the drug is easily available. It can be of great use to protect persons who came in close contact with a Covid-19 patient as well as in the treatment of asymptomatic and mild Covid patients.”
Currently there are many brands of ivermectin available in India like iverscab, vermact, scavista etc. Ivermectin has proven beneficial unlike many other drugs tested in Covid treatment. It is also a very cheap drug, which is easy to administer and is also profoundly safe.