Ivermectin has become one of the most talked about drugs in the world. A highly effective treatment for fighting parasites in animals, it was later also shown to be effective in humans. In 2015 the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was given to William Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura for discovering its use against infections caused by roundworm parasites.
Interest in the drug has spiked following laboratory evidence that it has an active ingredient that acts against the COVID-19 virus.
Distribution of the drug is highly controlled in most countries and it isn’t readily available. In South Africa it is now available for use under doctor supervision following a successful court process.
In today’s episode of Pasha, Vinny Naidoo, Dean of the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Veterinary Science, sets out the background to the drug, what the excitement is about and why a great deal of caution is required.
Firstly, the drug has not undergone robust clinical trials to test its effectiveness in fighting COVID-19. A few trials are now under way. Secondly, effectiveness shown in a laboratory doesn’t mean that it will prove to be an effective treatment. And even if its efficacy is proved, the drug will have to be administered in a hospital by a qualified healthcare professional.