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Dhaka Tribune

Have Bangladeshi doctors developed a miracle cure for Covid-19?

BMC has applied a two-drug combination on 200 patients and found tremendous success

Update : 25 Jun 2020, 12:20 PM

A team of physicians from the Bangladesh Medical College (BMC) has had tremendous success in treating Covid-19 with a combination of anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin and antibiotic Doxycycline.

Dhaka Tribune spoke to Professor Dr Tarek Alam, who is leading the 20-member BMC team, on the success of the two-drug combination treatment against the deadly virus.

Ivermectin is a medication used to treat many types of parasitic infestations. It can be taken orally or applied to the skin for external infestation. Doxycycline is used to treat many different bacterial infections, including respiratory infections.

BMC submitted a protocol in this regard to Bangladesh Medical and Research Council (BMRC) a week ago, and a decision will be made on granting permission for clinical trials following a meeting on Thursday.

Can the two-drug combination reduce risk and help patients recover from Covid-19?

Dr Tarek said applying Doxycycline with a single dose of Ivermectin reduced a patient's symptoms by 50% in just three days, and they were completely virus-free within the next four days. Covid-19 tests of these patients came negative within four to fourteen days.

Since April 12, BMC applied this two-drug combination on 200 patients and found tremendous success.

He also said the two-drug combination can kill the novel Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus in just 48 hours.

Recently, around 1,200 patients with mild Covid-19 symptoms recovered at Central Police Hospital (CPH) after using this combination.

 “If we had applied for this treatment earlier, we would have not lost so many lives in the country,” he added.

How does it work?

The combination works by causing the parasite's cell membrane to increase in permeability, resulting in paralysis and death of the parasite.

It directly works like an anti-virus, but a doctor’s opinion and prescription is needed before using it, Dr Tarek said.

How effective is it?

Dr Tarek told Dhaka Tribune that the combination was found to be more effective within the first seven days of visible symptoms.

“If we want to see its effect on critically ill patients on oxygen support, we need to run clinical trials.”

Earlier, a study on Ivermectin was conducted by a research team from Monash University in Australia and yielded positive results.

On April 3 this year, the journal "Antiviral Research" said that infecting the Vero-hSLAM cell line with the novel coronavirus and applying Ivermectin reduced the amount of virus in the cell line by up to 5,000 times in 48 hours.

On June 9, a US clinical trial of the drug Ivermectin found that it reduced the mortality rate of Covid-19 patients by 40%. The study was published in medRxiv and was led by Dr Jean-Jacques Rajter, a physician at Broward Health Medical Centre.

What are the side effects of this medication?

The BMC team leader said no special side effects of the medication have been found so far.

“Ivermectin is very widely used and seen as safe medicine. The scientists and researcher said Ivermectin is an approved anti-parasitic drug that has also been effective in vitro against a broad range of viruses including HIV, dengue, influenza, and the zika virus.”

How readily available is the medicine?

Around 10 medicine companies are producing these medicines. However, only 4 companies are currently selling the medicine for Tk5 each.

Ivermectin is found in the form of a 6mg tablet in Bangladesh, produced by ACME, Delta, Beximco, and Aristopharma Pharma under the names Scabo, Ivera, and Evactin, respectively. Originally, Ivermectin was used to treat scabies.

Delta Pharma sells their variant at only Tk6 per tablet. The price of Beximco Pharma's Ivermectin tablet is Tk10. The price of Doxycycline per tablet is only Tk2.2.

Who are now working with clinical trials and studies?

Dr Tarek said as BMC is not a Covid-19 hospital; they cannot apply it to critical patients.

However, some institutions are already working on it, including ICDDR,B and IEDCR (Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control And Research). They are conducting clinical trials and hope to complete the trials within the next two to three months.

“BMC is seeking permission from Bangladesh Medical and Research Council (BMRC) along with funds from the Health Ministry for clinical trials to know more about its effectiveness,” Dr Tarek added.

Dr Tarek is also involving various approaches to Covid-19 treatment in collaboration with the ICDDR,B.

Who gives permission for the clinical trials?

The Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA), the principal drug regulatory agency in Bangladesh, along with the Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC), Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare jointly award permission for any clinical trial in the country.

The BMC medical team first learned of the potential from the two-drug combination against Covid-19 virus from the Australian research. However, countries in Asia and Europe, and the United States need to work on it for Randomized Controlled Trial and collaboration.

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