Ivermectin effective in treating mild Covid-19
Covid-19 patients that received a five-day course of the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin have shown an early viral clearance and improvements of blood biomarkers compared with other two control groups, researchers found in their study at icddr,b.
Investigators found the anti-parasitic drug to be safe and it has shown, at best, a modest benefit for mild case of coronavirus in the study under which patients were enrolled between June 17 and September 8 this year.
The study findings have been published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases (IJID) on December 2, 2020.
Experts lauded the first-ever randomised clinical trial on the drug, saying it can be helpful for physicians to treat Covid-19 patients.
They, however, suggested not to take the drug without physicians' advice.
icddr,b, formally known as the International Center for Diarrheal Disease and Research, Bangladesh revealed the study findings supported by Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd at an event in Dhaka yesterday.
During the presentation, Dr Wasif Ali Khan, the chief investigator of the study said, "Despite a small sample size, the results provide evidence of potential benefit of early intervention with ivermectin for the treatment of adult patients diagnosed with mild Covid-19. The findings also conform to other global studies on ivermectin as a treatment for Covid-19."
The randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial evaluated orally administered ivermectin alone (12mg once daily for 5 days), ivermectin single dose (12mg) in combination with doxycycline (200mg stat doxycycline on day one, followed by 100mg 12 hourly for next four days) compared with placebo among 68 hospitalised patients of Covid-19 in Dhaka.
Patient distribution was 22, 23 and 23 in each group respectively who were from Mugda Medical College Hospital, Kurmitola General Hospital, and Dhaka Medical College Hospital in Dhaka.
The study demonstrated that patients in the five-day ivermectin group were 77 percent more likely to have early viral clearance on day-14 compared to those who received a combination of ivermectin and doxycycline, and placebo.
It also showed that on day three, some 18 percent of the patients in the group treated with ivermectin alone began to show viral clearance while this was at three percent among the patients taking the combination of ivermectin and doxycycline and three percent among the placebo group.
On day seven, it stood at 50 percent, 30 percent, and 13 percent respectively.
The odds of improvement in clinical status with the five-day treatment course of ivermectin versus ivermectin plus doxycycline, and placebo were also favourable, trending toward reduction of severity of infection indicated by improvement in the blood bio-markers, Dr Wasif Ali Khan said.
Biomarkers including, the C-reactive protein (CRP), Lactate Dehydrogenase (LDH) and Ferritin levels notably dropped from the baseline to day seven in the ivermectin-only group compared to other two groups.
Speaking as the chief guest, Nazmul Hassan, Managing Director of Beximco Pharmaceuticals Limited, said, "We are happy that the treatment regimen shows promise and that will indeed strengthen our fight against COVID-19 and help avoid many untimely deaths."
Prof Dr Ahmedul Kabir, the secretary general of Bangladesh Society of Medicine said they would include this drug in the national treatment protocol. "However, there is no chance for using the drug outside of clinical prescription," he mentioned.
Prof Tareq Alam said, "The basis for prescribing ivermectin was only observational so far. Now this study has created a scientific base. We, however, will need further study. We have been conducting another such study at BMCH."
Dr Tahmeed Ahmed, acting executive director of icddr,b; Professor Dr Syed Modasser Ali, former advisor to the Prime Minister and chairman of Bangladesh Medical Research Council, and Dr MA Hasnat, assistant professor at Kurmitola General Hospital spoke at the event among others.