Ivermectin, a medication that has long been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and World Health Organization (WHO) to fight parasites and treat worm infections, has been a topic of controversy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some experts have argued that public messages about ivermectin could lead people to use ivermectin that is formulated for animals to prevent or treat COVID-19 – an exercise that would of course be dangerous. Others have encouraged more research into the safety and efficacy of ivermectin in COVID-19 in response to data suggesting that the drug may be effective in combating COVID-19,
A new meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Therapeutics has reviewed evidence surrounding the use of ivermectin in COVID-19 and sheds light on the value the drug may bring in the context of this disease and the pandemic. The results showed that compared to those who took no ivermectin, those who took ivermectin had a reduced risk of death.There were conflicting results about whether ivermectin was beneficial as a treatment, but severe adverse events in those taking ivermectin were rare.
When looked at comprehensively, the authors concluded that the data around ivermectin and COVID-19 provides moderate-certainty evidence that COVID-19 deaths could be largely reduced with the use of ivermectin. Specifically, the authors argue that intervening early in the course of COVID-19 disease with ivermectin could reduce the number of people who’s infection progresses to severe disease.
The authors conclude that given the low cost, favorable safety profile, and evidence for the potential value of ivermectin in COVID-19, it is possible that ivermectin could have a significant influence on the pandemic. More research on the effects of ivermectin in COVID-19 will help to clarify if and when it is appropriate for physicians to prescribe the drug to fight the pandemic.
Additional information can also be found in the CDC’s most recent update: COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines
Bryant A, Lawrie TA, Dowswell T, et al. Ivermectin for Prevention and Treatment of COVID-19 Infection: A Systematic Review, Meta-analysis, and Trial Sequential Analysis to Inform Clinical Guidelines. American Journal of Therapeutics. 2021;28(4):e434. doi:10.1097/MJT.0000000000001402