Ivermectin Use for COVID-19 Limited to Clinical Trials
The World Health Organization (WHO) stated the 'current evidence on the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 patients is inconclusive. Until more data is available, the WHO recommends that the drug only be used within clinical trials.'
This new WHO recommendation was issued on March 31, 2021, which applies to patients with COVID-19 of any disease severity.
This recommendation is now part of WHO’s guidelines on COVID-19 treatments.
Ivermectin is a broad-spectrum anti-parasitic agent, included in the WHO essential medicines list for several parasitic diseases. It is used to treat onchocerciasis (river blindness), strongyloidiasis, and other diseases caused by soil-transmitted helminthiasis. It is also used to treat scabies.
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, including clinical care experts in multiple specialties, and includes an ethicist and patient-partners.
The group reviewed pooled data from 16 randomized controlled trials (total enrolled 2407), including inpatients and outpatients with COVID-19. They determined that the evidence on whether ivermectin reduces mortality, need for mechanical ventilation, need for hospital admission, and time to clinical improvement in COVID-19 patients is of “very low certainty,” due to the small sizes and methodological limitations of available trial data, including a small number of events.
The panel did not look at the use of ivermectin to prevent COVID-19, which is outside of the scope of the current guidelines.
Furthermore, the U.S. FDA has not approved ivermectin for use in treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans.
'For one thing, animal drugs are often highly concentrated because they are used for large animals like horses and cows, which can weigh a lot more than we do—a ton or more. Such high doses can be highly toxic in humans,' says the FDA.
Ivermectin tablets are approved at precise doses for some parasitic worms, and there are topical (on the skin) formulations for head lice and skin conditions like rosacea. Ivermectin is not an anti-viral (a drug for treating viruses).