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WHO advises that Ivermectin only be used to treat Covid-19 within clinical trials

Photo by Luis ROBAYO / AFP

Photo by Luis ROBAYO / AFP

Published Mar 31, 2021

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DURBAN - The World Health Organisation has advised that Ivermectin should be used to treat Covid-19 within clinical trials only, adding that current evidence on the use of Ivermectin to treat patients with Coronavirus was inconclusive.

The recommendation now forms part of WHO's guidelines on Covid-19 treatment.

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WHO said Ivermectin is a broad spectrum anti-parasitic agent, included in WHO essential medicines list for several parasitic diseases.

"It is used in the treatment of onchocerciasis also known as river blindness, strongyloidiasis and other diseases caused by soil transmitted helminthiasis. It is also used to treat scabies," WHO said.

A guideline development group was convened in response to the increased international attention on Ivermectin as a potential treatment for Covid-19.

"This group is an independent, international panel of experts, which includes clinical care experts in multiple specialities and also include an ethicist and patient-partners," WHO said.

The group reviewed pooled data from 16 randomised controlled trials - total enrolled 2 407 - including both inpatients and outpatients with Covid-19.

WHO said the group determined that the evidence on whether Ivermectin reduces mortality, the need for mechanical ventilation, hospitalisation and time to clinical improvement in Covid-19 patients, is of “very low certainty”. This was due to the small sizes and methodological limitations of available trial data, including small number of events.

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The panel did not look at the use of Ivermectin to prevent Covid-19, which is outside of the scope of current guidelines.

Meanwhile, earlier this week the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Saphra) has refuted claims that it has authorised Ivermectin for the treatment of Covid-19.

It said Soolantra cream ‒ an Ivermectin product ‒ has been approved for the treatment of a skin condition, not related to Covid-19. Soolantra cream was not for the prevention or treatment of Covid-19, Saphra warned.

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