While the antiparasitic drug ivermectin is being touted as a treatment for COVID-19 in many parts of the world, Taiwanese experts on Monday warned against regular use of the drug in COVID-19 treatment, citing a lack of solid evidence.
“Following an experts’ meeting, we do not recommend regular use of ivermectin in treating COVID-19 due to the lack of enough evidence,” said Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳), convener of the Central Epidemic Command Center’s (CECC) expert advisory panel.
A report in the American Journal of Therapeutics said that meta-analyses based on 18 randomized controlled treatment trials of ivermectin in COVID-19 patients had found large, statistically significant reductions in mortality, time to clinical recovery and time to viral clearance.
“Furthermore, results from numerous controlled prophylaxis trials report significantly reduced risks of contracting COVID-19 with the regular use of ivermectin,” the report said.
Although initial findings showed that ivermectin seemed effective in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, Chang said that no meaningful evidence has been provided to verify that it helps bring down patients’ mortality or intubation rate.
Neither is there evidence to prove that it speeds up the elimination of the coronavirus or shortens the length of a patient’s hospital stay, because of the limited number of cases studied, he said.
Ivermectin, a medication used to treat many types of parasitic infestations, was first used in 1988 to treat river blindness, a disease caused by infection from the parasitic worm Onchocerca volvulus.
Since 2012, several studies have shown the antiviral effects of ivermectin on viruses such as influenza, dengue fever and AIDS.
As neither the WHO, the EU or the US have included ivermectin use in their guidelines for COVID-19 treatment, the center decided not to recommend regular use of the drug for such a purpose, Chang said.
He warned COVID-19 patients against buying the drug over the counter to treat the disease due to potential side effects caused by inappropriate use.
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