AUSTRALIAN scientists claim they have discovered that the anti-lice drug known as Ivermectin can kill the coronavirus within 48 hours after they conducted several trials with it in a laboratory setting.
With 1.36m people affected worldwide and 76,322 victims having died from the dreaded coronavirus, scientists are working flat out to find a cure. In Australia, scientists decided to try out Ivermectin, which is used to treat head lice and is available all over the world and their research discovered that it actually kills the virus.
Researchers at Monash University found that a single dose of Ivermectin stops the Sars-CoV-2 virus growing in cell culture. However, the research is in its early stages and Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug, has not yet been tested on persons infected with Covid-19.
Now, the next step is for scientists to determine the correct human dosage, to make sure the level used in vitro is safe for humans. However, scientists have warned that it could take at least a month before human trials start.
Dr Kylie Wagstaff, of the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, said: “We found that even a single dose could essentially remove all viral RNA (effectively removed all genetic material of the virus) by 48 hours and that even at 24 hours there was a really significant reduction in it. In times when we’re having a global pandemic and there isn’t an approved treatment, if we had a compound that was already available around the world then that might help people sooner.
“Realistically, however, it’s going to be a while before a vaccine is broadly available.” He added that the study is the work of Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute and the Peter Doherty Institute of Infection and Immunity.
Ivermectin was discovered in 1975 and came into medical use in 1981. It is on the World Health Organisation List of Essential Medicines, the safest and most effective medicines needed in a health system.
Relatively cheap, the wholesale cost in the developing world for the tablets is about $0.12 for a course of treatment. Ivermectin is available worldwide in its trade names Stromectol and Soolantra cream.
It has been used since the 1980s to treat and prevent diseases related to parasites in humans, pets and livestock, and works by paralysing invertebrate parasites and is also a second-line treatment for scabies. MSD, the pharmaceutical company that makes Ivermectin, has also been donating the drug to developing countries to treat the parasitic diseases river blindness and elephantiasis for the past 30 years.
When used in the recommended dose, Ivermectin is generally well tolerated. Some of the common side effects, however, include diarrhoea, nausea, dizziness and drowsiness.