Since the dawn of the pandemic, we’ve searched for ways to treat COVID-19 — putting forth the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine and the antiparasitic agent ivermectin as potential treatment agents, but all of that lost its luster when vaccines arrived.
One Israeli professor, however, is reviving the plausibility of previous ivermectin studies in research that has yet to be peer-reviewed.
The double-blinded trial study out of the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer shows promising results in reducing “viral shedding among nonhospitalized patients with mild to moderate COVID-19,” according to The Jerusalem Post.
Professor Eli Schwartz, founder of the Center for Travel Medicine and Tropical Disease at Sheba, conducted the trial between May 2020 and January 2021, using 89 adult volunteers who were diagnosed with COVID-19 and contained in state-run COVID hotels, according to the outlet.
Schwartz administered the drug to 50 percent of the participants and administered a placebo to those remaining an hour before a meal for three consecutive days.
Schwartz swabbed participants with standard nasopharyngeal swab PCR tests to examine their viral load every two days and found that, by the sixth day, nearly 72 percent of those who consumed the drug tested negative for the virus while only 50 percent tested negative in the placebo group.
The Jerusalem Post report mentioned another promising discovery — only 13 percent of the ivermectin group were still infectious at the end of the six days.
And the placebo group? Fifty percent — nearly four times as many — were still infectious, according to the outlet.
If authorized, not only would this help combat COVID cases in those without immunity, but it could also help those experiencing breakthrough infections following vaccination.
“Our study shows first and foremost that ivermectin has antiviral activity,” Schwartz said, according to the Jerusalem Post.
“It also shows that there is almost a 100% chance that a person will be noninfectious in four to six days, which could lead to shortening isolation time for these people. This could have a huge economic and social impact.”
Not to mention, ivermectin offers an affordable solution to a long-standing dilemma. In fact, it’s estimated to cost less than $1 a day.
If it’s approved, it would seem like an unlikely hero, right?
The drug was first approved by the FDA in 1987 for antiparasitic purposes and, according to the National Institutes of Health, has since been used to treat a number of tropical diseases, including “onchocerciasis, helminthiases, and scabies.”
It’s also been documented to effectively treat head lice in infected patients.
But research shows the drug’s abilities might not end there.
Ivermectin is also under evaluation for potential reduction in malaria transmission, and according to the Jerusalem Post, a number of studies have shown its promising antiviral ability against ailments including HIV, influenza, Zika and the West Nile Virus.
Though the NIH clarifies that the drug is “not approved by the FDA for the treatment of any viral infection,” it may still show promise with viruses like COVID-19 and could obtain approval in the future.
At this point, it’s up to the scientific community to determine whether the evidence favors ivermectin as a potential COVID treatment.
It’s nice to see science at least entertaining the notion now, considering many have so vehemently opposed the idea of an already-existent COVID treatment in the past.
The FDA still maintains that COVID-infected patients should not take ivermectin as a treatment or a preventative, of course, but it’s certainly possible that will change in light of more research.
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