Ivermectin remains a controversial drug of choice

Many people have resorted to purchasing the drug online from RM145 per strip, to be on standby in case of emergency

by NUR HANANI AZMAN

ANTI-PARASITIC drug, Ivermectin, has come under the spotlight after calls by many for it to be included as one of Covid-19 treatments.

It was reported in April that scientists at Monash University Australia found that a single dose of the Ivermectin could stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus from growing in cell culture within 48 hours.

With the rising number of Covid19 cases and deaths everywhere, many people have resorted to purchasing the drug online from RM145 per strip, to be on standby in case of emergency.

Facebook user Sundeep Deep who tested positive for Covid-19, said he felt better after five days of consuming Ivermectin and tested negative on the second swab test.

“Many clinics have Ivermectin that people can buy with doctor consultation. I was given 100mg antibiotics and antivirals.

“I consume one Ivermectin twice a day for five days only. It made me thirsty, so I had to drink more water. Overall, it was fine,” he said.

Another Facebook user Zatul Aida Othman Ahmad Naim said her whole family took Ivermectin after testing positive.

“They only had a few mild symptoms and minor breathing issues. With God’s permission, all of them were able to fight Covid-19,” she said.

An Ivermectin buyer, who requested anonymity, said she bought Ivermectin online in early July as a precaution.

“I am worried that if anyone in my family gets infected with Covid19 and has difficulty in breathing, an ambulance might take a long time to arrive.

“I just bought it but pray I will not need to use it,” she told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

Meanwhile, Facebook user Aiman Arif Arifin believed that approving a drug for public consumption is a complex process and consumers must not easily believe what the mass is saying, especially messages made viral over Whatsapp.

“There will always be drugs that are overclaimed. It used to be Hydroxychloroquine, then Remdesivir, and now Ivermectin.

“The fact is, all drugs and treatments must go through the same phases of study,” he said.

George Shanker, who tested positive on July 5, 2021, experienced a fever, headache, aching bones and cough with phlegm and blood.

“The clinic where I was tested did not mention what stage I was at, but they just declared that I was positive. The Ivermectin was passed to me by a friend who told her doctor about my condition. So, I assumed that the doctor gave a specific dose for my situation.

“I also take other supplements such as multivitamins, vitamin C, NuSkin G3 juice and Ivermectin.

So, I am not sure exactly which helped with my condition. I would not say I felt much change but I do know that these tablets helped my immune system,” he told TMR.

Although he had recovered from Covid-19, George said he still felt some side effects from the virus.

“Even today I still feel fatigued, some headache and cough,” he added.

In Malaysia, the use of Ivermectin as part of Covid-19 treatment is currently being tested in 18 general hospitals nationwide, the Dewan Rakyat was told on July 27.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said about 500 high-risk Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms will be involved in the clinical trials to gauge the drug’s efficacy and safety.

“So far, about 200 patients have taken part in the study and the results will be available in September,” he said.

According to Osel group chief clinical and innovative scientist Dr Kris See, Ivermectin tablets are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat people with intestinal strongyloidiasis and onchocerciasis, two conditions caused by parasitic worms.

He said, in addition, some topical (on the skin) forms of Ivermectin are approved to treat external parasites like head lice and for skin conditions such as rosacea.

“Some forms of Ivermectin are used in animals to prevent heartworm disease and certain internal and external parasites.

“It is important to note that these products are different from the ones for people, and safe when used as prescribed for animals only,” he told TMR.

He said until now, clinical studies’ results are insufficient to prove that Ivermectin can treat or prevent Covid-19 and that to date, only vaccines have been proven to do so.

“In March this year, the World Health Organisation stated that current evidence on the use of Ivermectin for Covid-19 patients was inconclusive. Pending further data, it recommended that the drug only be used within clinical trials.

“Meanwhile, calls for Ivermectin to be approved for Covid-19 treatment continue to grow. I think given very low certainty of its effectiveness, Ivermectin would remain a controversial drug of choice,” he concluded.