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Tuks academic Vinny Naidoo urges doctors not to use ivermectin to prevent Covid-19

Ivermectin with an estimated value of around R6 million was recently discovered at OR Tambo International Airport. Picture: SAPS

Ivermectin with an estimated value of around R6 million was recently discovered at OR Tambo International Airport. Picture: SAPS

Published Feb 2, 2021


Pretoria - A University of Pretoria academic has urged doctors not to use ivermectin to prevent Covid-19 infection.

Professor Vinny Naidoo, Dean of UP’s faculty of Veterinary Science and specialist in veterinary pharmacology, cautioned on Monday against the use of the drug.

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According to the academic, it was illegal to use a veterinary drug or stock remedy on people.

Last week, a Pretoria doctor and civil rights organisation Afriforum filed an urgent application for permission to use the drug.

But Naidoo said: “We simply do not know if this actually works and what the dangers associated with the use of this drug in human beings is … there could be adverse effects.

“The drug is generally considered safe and effective at the prescribed dosage on animals.

“However, an overdose can cause severe side-effects. Furthermore, in the absence of guidance for use, there is currently no standardisation of dose or indication of use.

“I am most afraid of people taking multiple tablets daily and then the drug becomes toxic to them, or take it and it doesn’t work and they let their guard down only to get infected with Covid-19.

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“At the moment there is no local formulation, one would have to get it overseas. We just have the cattle drug which everyone is trying to get a hold of.”

He said the black market was thriving as people sought the medical formulation.

“The problem with the black market is that we do not know what people will be buying.

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“I may be buying a tablet of aspirin thinking its ivermectin. We don’t know if it was transported right, in terms of temperature or how it was manufactured and it could have contaminants that may have long or short term effects.”

While numerous clinical studies have been undertaken on ivermectin and its effect on Covid-19, there are concerns some of the studies have had a small number of participants and some of the doctors were not properly advised.

“This is why, when used, the patients need to be under the care of a doctor, to allow for proper patient monitoring.

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“While some might argue that the benefits surely outweigh the risks, this is not a true reflection of the situation and, until proper clinical studies are completed, the general public should in no way be misled into thinking that drinking the veterinary ivermectin formulation will be a panacea in this current epidemic,” said Naidoo.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) said it had received reports that many practitioners were prescribing products claiming to contain ivermectin despite the lack of adequate evidence to support its use.

The authority said as there was no formulation of ivermectin for human use available in the country, the ivermectin being used was either for veterinary use or sourced from illegal importation.

“This widespread unregistered use of the drug has resulted in the quality and content of the ivermectin being prescribed not being guaranteed.”

Sahpra said while there were no ivermectin products registered for human use in the country, it would occasionally grant permits for the use of the unregistered drug as a prescribed medication for patients not responding to other medicines.

Dr Angelique Coetzee from the South African Medical Association (Sama) said there was still not enough scientific evidence at this stage for them to back the use of the drug, despite pundits pushing studies conducted.

“We have very little studies done on this, and this is why the use of this drug needs the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority green light first so there could also be data gathered to see if it is working and with what combinations if it is administered in certain cases.

Pretoria News

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