The World Health Organization on Tuesday warned that the general use of ivermectin, a drug used to treat parasitic infections for the treatment of Covid-19 patients.
WHO chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan tweeted that the safety and the efficacy are important when using any drug for a new indication. WHO recommends against use of ivermectin for Covid-19 except within clinical trials.
A similar warning has also been issued by German healthcare giant Merck, whose statement Dr Swaminathan quoted in his tweet on Tuesday in which Merck said the scientists continue to carefully examine findings of all available and emerging studies of ‘ivermectin’ for treatment of Covid-19.
In its tweet quoted by Swaminathan, Merck said no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against Covid-19 from pre-clinical studies, no meaningful evidence for clinical activity or efficacy in patients with Covid-19 disease, and a concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies.
This is the second WHO warning against ‘ivermectin’ in the last two months. Earlier in March, WHO had said there is a very low certainty of evidence of the drug’s effect on mortality or hospital admission.
Dr Swaminathan’s tweet comes a day after Goa approved use of ‘ivermectin’ as preventive treatment for all adults against the SARS-CoV2 virus that causes the Covid-19 disease.
Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said that the state’s green-lighting of the drug was after expert panels from the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and Japan found a statistically significant reduction in mortality, time to recovery, and viral clearance in Covid-19 patients treated with ‘ivermectin'”. Rane said treatment – 12 mg for five days – would be available for everyone over 18.
However, this does not prevent Covid-19 infection but helps in reducing the severity of the disease and at the same time one should not have a false sense of security and complacency but strictly take all the precautionary measures and follow laid SOP’s.
Last month the Union Health Ministry, while issuing revised guidelines for home isolation of asymptomatic Covid cases, indicated use of ‘ivermectin’ to control fevers.
The WHO chief scientist’s tweet sparked a debate over the efficacy of ‘ivermectin’, which is approved – in specific doses – for infections caused by some parasitic worms.