Medicine experts have said the drug Ivermectin has promising potential to be ruled effective in treating Covid-19, but the public should await results of trials that are under way. File Picture
Medicine experts have said the drug Ivermectin has promising potential to be ruled effective in treating Covid-19, but the public should await results of trials that are under way. File Picture

South Africans urged to wait for results on effectiveness of Ivermectin in treating Covid-19

By Bongani Nkosi Time of article published Jan 15, 2021

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Johannesburg - Medicine experts have said the drug Ivermectin has promising potential to be ruled effective in treating Covid-19, but the public should await results of trials that are under way.

The six doctors attached to Stellenbosch University’s (SU) medicine faculty as well as Khayelitsha Hospital and Tygerberg Hospital penned a journal-published article titled “Ivermectin for Covid-19: Promising but not yet conclusive”.

Roland van Rensburg, Eric H Decloedt, Helmuth Reuter, Arifa Parker, Neshaad Schrueder and Sa’ad Lahri weighed in on the raging debate about the effectiveness of the drug registered only for use in animals in South Africa.

Some organisations have charged that the government should allow the drug for humans. They maintained that it was effective against the coronavirus.

The SU experts specialising in medicine and clinical pharmacology wrote that several randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and observational studies were looking into the effectiveness and safety outcomes of ivermectin in treating Covid-19.

“Data for Ivermectin from larger RCTs are expected in early 2021,” they wrote. “These data are very promising, showing large treatment effects and acceptable adverse effect profiles for ivermectin against Covid-19, especially when combined in meta-analyses.”

While the multiple scientific studies “are certainly promising, caution should be exercised” because nothing has been concluded as yet, the six wrote.

“As a recent example, the widely proclaimed benefits of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine from observational studies proved to be unfounded in larger RCTs,” they said.

The experts pointed out that the Department of Health in December released its own evidence summary

that concluded that, based on the then available data, Ivermectin should not be used for adults with Covid 19.

“Nonetheless, although the rapidly evolving data may currently be interpreted as inconclusive based on methodological factors and small sample sizes of individual studies, the combined trend of results indicates that Ivermectin holds promise as a directed therapy against Covid-19,” the six said.

One of the outstanding aspects of the trials was the optimal dose of Ivermectin in humans.

“Higher than standard Ivermectin doses appear to be safe in humans, but at the time of writing there is still much uncertainty regarding the human dose required to achieve antiviral activity and a favourable benefit-to-risk balance,” they wrote.

Organisations that have demanded human administering of Ivermectin included Black First Land First, the New Economic Rights Alliance and AfriForum.

AfriForum threatened court action against the government over the drug.

“A large range of studies in various countries show that Ivermectin can possibly be effective in the treatment of Covid-19,” said the group.

The SU experts urged the public and health professionals to rally behind the medical interventions already in place “while awaiting data from clinical trials in SA or abroad”.

The Star

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