On Tuesday, WHO Chief Scientist said WHO recommends against the use of Ivermectin. The development came just one day after Goa authorities gave a nod to prescribing the drug to all adults. It should be noted that it’s not just WHO but USA’s FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and Ivermectin’s manufacturer that have recommended against the usage of the drug for COVID-19 treatment.
On Monday, Goa’s health minister said that all adults above 18 in the state will be prescribed a dose of Ivermectin in the fight against COVID-19. The minister said that the drug will given to all adults irrespective of their COVID-19 infection status. “All our doctors and experts, the chief minister have unanimously decided to go ahead with this… We should go ahead and give it to the population. It’s a must,” said Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane.
On Tuesday, WHO Chief Scientist took to Twitter to express that the global body that sets guidelines regarding all public health related matters, advices against the usage of ivermectin.
“Safety and efficacy are important when using any drug for a new indication. WHO recommends against the use of Ivermectin for #COVID19 except within clinical trials,” the WHO Chief Scientist wrote.
— Soumya Swaminathan (@doctorsoumya) May 10, 2021
FDA’s stance on Ivermectin
One should note that even the United States’ FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in April, 2020, warned against Ivermectin’s usage in COVID-19 treatment. In another release, FDA went into details about its stance on Ivermectin.
The agency wrote-
“FDA has not approved Ivermectin for use in treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans. Ivermectin tablets are approved at very specific doses for some parasitic worms, and there are topical (on the skin) formulations for head lice and skin conditions like rosacea. Ivermectin is not an anti-viral (a drug for treating viruses).”
Indian Health Ministry’s opinion on Ivermectin
It should be noted that along with the FDA, India’s health ministry MoHFW (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) also gave strong warning against Ivermectin’s usage for COVID-19 and did not include the drug in its Clinical management Protocol. The ministry’s experts and ICMR’s COVID-19 task force took a meeting where the discussion on Ivermectin was taken place. On deliberate assessment into the matter, the ministry chose to not include the drug in its COVID-19 management protocol citing “lack of sufficient evidence on its efficacy based on randomized trials held in India and abroad” as a reason.
Ivermectin manufacturer Merck’s statement
Arguably, the most important stance came from the drug manufacturer itself. Merck & Co, the pharmaceutical company responsible for producing Ivermectin also released a statement where it advised the drug’s usage for COVID-19 related issues.
The company in its release said how its scientists have carefully examined all the findings available from emerging studies of Ivermectin usage for COVID-19 treatment. According to company’s analysis, it was found that there was “no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19 from pre-clinical studies.” Further, the company also added that there was “no meaningful evidence for clinical activity or clinical efficacy in patients with COVID-19 disease”, and “a concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies.”
What have other studies concluded?
While WHO, FDA, and the drug maker advices against the usage of Ivermectin for COVID-19 treatment, there have been some studies that have drastically different conclusions. In a paper published in the Antiviral Research it was stated that the drug actually should be further investigated for its possible benefits in humans.
There were other studies that proved that doses that are higher than the maximum approved limit were required for usage in humans to achieve antiviral effect. But because taking higher doses than the maximum approved limit may prove toxic, the doses were not approved.
What is Ivermectin drug?
According to the FDA Ivermectin is a veterinary drug that are used to treat various types of parasite infections in animals. The drug is approved for human usage for the treatment of parasitic worms.