WHO to probe use of Ivermectin for Covid-19 treatment after ’promising’ results in trials

A box of the drug Ivermectine, made by Biogaran, is pictured on the counter of a pharmacy in Paris, France. File picture: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

A box of the drug Ivermectine, made by Biogaran, is pictured on the counter of a pharmacy in Paris, France. File picture: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Published Jan 21, 2021


Cape Town - The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed that an independent panel of experts will investigate the anti-parasitic drug, Ivermectin as a possible Covid-19 treatment.

“Due to new results coming in from various trials, within the following days a systematic review will be conducted for an independent panel of experts to consider the full evidence available.

“We are closely following the research on Ivermectin, which has shown promising results in some trials.

“All changes to WHO recommended treatments follow this expedited but comprehensive review, and are shared with the public at the earliest possible time,” the organisation said.

Calls around the world have grown louder for Ivermectin’s use in treating Covid-19 patients.

In South Africa over 500 doctors and health professionals have petitioned President Cyril Ramaphosa and the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) to fast-track clinical trials and consideration of Ivermectin’s use on humans.

Durban general practioner, Dr Naseeba Kathrada who compiled the petition said:“The health minister said that he has seen the letter.

“I’m very hopeful that I am going to get a response because I am sending the email again with over five hundred names.

“I’m quite sure that even though they haven’t responded, I know that they know the letter is out there, and I’m quite sure they do understand the enormity of the situation.”

She hoped the WHO’s stance it would have a bearing on Sahpra’s position on Ivermectin.

Sources close to Sahpra yesterday indicated that it would take ‘another look’ at the research data submitted to them around Ivermectin previously, including an analysis by Dr Andrew Hill of the University of Liverpool but would still need a more significant clinical trial to take place.

About the WHO’s statement on Ivermectin, Sahpra spokesperson Yuven Gounden said its stance remained.

According to Sahpra, Ivermectin is registered for use by the Department of Agriculture for use in animals.

“The drug is not currently registered for human use, but Sahpra occasionally grants Section 21 permits for the use of topical Ivermectin as an unregistered product for the treatment of individual patients with conditions such as scabies or head lice,” Sahpra statement on its website reads.

The Department of Health was contacted for comment but did not respond.

However in a series of tweets, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said they would follow the WHO on the matter.

“Our guide is WHO, they have not recommended the use of Ivermectin.

“We need to ensure that the correct trials have taken place, before Sahpra can approve the use,” Mkhize said in a tweet.

Some health professionals maintain that there is growing evidence for Ivermectin’s use against Covid-19.

“It is certainly another tool in the toolkit and we need everything we can to go after this pandemic,” said American pulmonary and critical care specialist Pierre Kory who is president of the Front-Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) – a group of critical care specialists and published academic authors developing treatment protocols to prevent the transmission of Covid-19.

“It’s not that I think that Ivermectin can help people.

“I know it helps people. The data is unmistakable and consistent.

"It shows quicker time to viral clearance, lower viral loads, faster times to recovery and lowered mortality rates. ” he said.

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