There are indications that more people are turning to the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin for both self-treatment and as a prophylactic preventive measure against Vocid-19. Sold in Nigeria as Mectizan, Ivermectin is a medication used to treat many types of parasite infestations.
Ivermectin is an FDA-approved broad spectrum anti-parasitic agent that has been shown to have anti-viral activity against a broad range of viruses including SARS-CoV-2 and potentially cut the risk of Covid-19 deaths by as much as 75%, according to researchers at the University of Liverpool.
Investigations by The Economy show that between late December 2020 and first week of February 2021, the price of the drug has shot up by over 200 per cent as more people buy up available stock. With the acclaimed success being recorded across many parts of the world in using it as treatment for Covid-19, Lagos State government has indicated plans for approved clinical trial of the drug to assess its effectiveness against Covid-19. This decision follows the spike recorded immediately after the festive period that saw the State running out of space at its specified hospitals and also recording more deaths in the last two months than in the eight months from March 2020 to November 2020.
“While this medication has not yet been approved for the broad treatment of the coronavirus disease, the state government has however taken the bold step of ensuring we have adequate stocks,” state Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said in a Twitter post.
Lagos is having a testing positivity rate of 24% with 9,856 active cases of the illness while oxygen demand has spiked to 300 to 400 cylinders from 70 cylinders a day as more people come down with symptoms, the governor said.
It could be recalled that about 2,000 people have died from the coronavirus in Nigeria since its first case on Feb. 27 last year. The country has recorded more than 131,000 cases.
There is ongoing debate in South Africa with the continent’s highest Covid-19 infection rates on whether to deploy ivermectin as prophylactic treatment or not with more people putting pressures on the government to approve its use. Studies in different countries such as Australia, India, and Bangladesh seem to suggest efficacy of the drug when administered as pre-exposure prophylaxis for COVID-19.
One observational study which involved 118 healthcare providers who were enrolled purposively, was conducted in a tertiary hospital in Dhaka from May 2020 to August 2020. The subjects were divided into experimental and control groups; and the experimental group received an oral monthly dose of Ivermectin 12mg for 4 months. Both groups were exposed to COVID-19 positive patients admitted in the hospital during the course of study.
The symptomatic subjects were evaluated by physical examination, COVID-19 RT-PCR and/or HRCT of chest. Differences between the variables were determined using the Chi-square test and the level of statistical significance was reached when p<0.05. The result shows that 73.3% (44 out of 60) subjects in control group were positive for COVID-19, whereas only 6.9% (4 out of 58) of the experimental group were diagnosed with COVID-19.
Ivermectin was discovered in 1975 and came into medical use in 1981.It is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. Ivermectin is FDA-approved as an antiparasitic agent.