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Dhaka Tribune

Can Ivermectin help prevent Covid-19?

Following an observational study, researchers call for large-scale trials around the world

Update : 26 Dec 2020, 09:50 PM

While multiple vaccines are undergoing clinical trials across the globe, an observational trial in Bangladesh suggests that Ivermectin, a cheap and widely available drug, may be effective in preventing Covid-19.

The trial suggests that the FDA-approved broad spectrum anti-parasitic drug, which has been touted as effective in treating moderate level corona positive patients (though results remain ambiguous), may be effective as a preventive drug, leading to a call for trials worldwide to see if the apparent findings can be confirmed and replicated.

In its latest issue, the European Journal of Medical and Health Sciences (EJMED) published a study carried out in Bangladesh, aimed at determining the effectiveness of Ivermectin when administered as a preventive drug for Covid-19.

EJMED, a peer-reviewed bimonthly international journal, carried the study findings on December 15, saying – “Ivermectin, an FDA-approved, safe, cheap and widely available drug, should be subjected to large-scale trials all over the world to ascertain its effectiveness as pre-exposure prophylaxis for Covid-19.”

Mohammed Tarek Alam of Bangladesh Medical College Hospital, who led a 13-strong team mentioned in the EJMED article, told Dhaka Tribune on Saturday that the team administered Ivermectin dosages four times, one each per month, to 58 volunteers in Dhaka during the May-August period this year and found  that only four of them later suffered from mild Covid-19.

Also Read - Experts: Ivermectin promising but not yet conclusive, safe for mass usage

On the other hand, he added, as many as 44 volunteers out of 60 others, who chose not to take the tablet during the same period, later suffered from Covid-19.  

Alam’s team conducted the observational study with 118 healthcare providers enrolling purposely. The subjects were divided into experimental and control groups; and the experimental group received an oral monthly dose of Ivermectin 12mg for 4 months. 

The study

Both groups were exposed to Covid-19 positive patients admitted in Bangladesh Medical College Hospital during the course of the study and the symptomatic subjects were evaluated by physical examinations.

Results show that 73.3% (44 out of 60) subjects in the control group were positive for Covid-19, whereas only 6.9% (4 out of 58) of the experimental group were diagnosed with Covid-19.

While the first group of subjects did not take Ivermectin, the other group took the tablets. Ivermectin is taken orally as tablets.

Tarek Alam said: “We experimented with Ivermectin previously as a treatment drug for Covid-19 but now we have found it apparently very effective as a preventive drug.”

He said he and his team would approach the Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) for a randomized control trial to further validate the findings of their observational study.

A ray of light

The other members of the observational study were: Zafor Md Masud, Sadia Saber, Mainul Alam Chaklader, Fatema Khanam, Monower Hossain, Abdul Basit Ibne Momen, Rafa Faaria Alam and Amrin Sultana of Bangladesh Medical College Hospital; Rubaiul Murshed, Pauline Francisca Gomes and Rishad Choudhury Robin of Shomman Foundation, Bangladesh; and Naz Yasmin of International Medical College, Bangladesh.

They said: “The pioneering drug Ivermectin is a dihydro derivative of Avermectin, which originated solely from a single microorganism, Streptomyces avermitilis, isolated at the Kitasato  Institute, Tokyo,  Japan, by Satoshi Ōmura from Japanese soil and since then, has had an astounding impact in improving  the lives and welfare of billions of people across the globe, two of such accomplishments being its use in  combating the world’s most disfiguring, stigmatized diseases – Onchocerciasis and Lymphatic Filariasis.”

About their study, they said: “This study has shed a ray of light in portraying Ivermectin’s astounding impact on preventing transmission and contraction of Covid-19 in the most vulnerable setting of a hospital among healthcare workers.

“Moreover, the experimental group did not complain of any side effects or breach of compliance regarding the dosing schedule. However, we acknowledge that this trial has limitations. This study was conducted on a small scale with a limited number of subjects being monitored over a short period of time.”

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