AT THE forefront of the Ivermectin debate around the world, and the man credited with finding the “data signals” that the drug can be used to treat Covid-19, is South African-born Dr Paul Marik.
As the Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School in the US, Marik has more than 30 years' experience in a number of medical fields, including pharmacology, anaesthesiology and critical care.
Marik was born in Johannesburg and received his medical degree from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits).
“It was the best medical school in the world,” said Marik.
He was an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) attending physician at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, and when he moved to the US he did a Critical Care Fellowship in Canada. Since 1992, has worked in various teaching hospitals across the US.
A respected author, Marik has written more than 400 peer-reviewed journal articles, 80 book chapters and authored four critical care books. He has been cited more than 35 000 times in peer-reviewed publications.
Currently, Marik and pulmonary and critical care specialist Dr Pierre Kory are heading up a non-profit organisation called the Front-Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), where together with a group of experts they develop effective treatment protocols to prevent the transmission of Covid-19.
The group discovered that Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic medicine, has highly potent anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties against Covid-19.
According to several studies, the drug has been shown to decrease viral load, prevent transmission of the virus, and reduce mortality in critically ill patients.
Kory said the FLCCC was not the first group to research the use of the drug against Covid-19; it is rather the first group to bring it to the world’s attention.
“Dr Marik was really the first one to identify the data signals showing the efficacy for Ivermectin. He did that after about five small clinical trials came out and saw that the drug appeared to be working,” said Kory.
Marik says the organisation put Ivermectin on the map.
“I think if it wasn’t for us shouting and being so vocal, no one would have listened. Obviously we didn’t invent Ivermectin, but we have popularised it.
“We’ve seen how devastating this pandemic has been across the entire world, and we know that if people had followed our approach it would have saved tens of thousands of lives, but no one has listened, and it is a tragedy,” Marik said.
In several countries around the world and in South Africa the drug has been met with scepticism and caution. However, earlier this week the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) announced it would allow the controlled, compassionate use of Ivermectin to treat Covid-19.
While the country awaits further details on how the access programme will unfold, several physicians have said it is a move in the right direction.
“We have a good answer with Ivermectin. It’s not the only answer, but we think it is part of the approach to this disease,” said Marik.