Ivermectin for preventing and treating COVID-19

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Ivermectin for preventing and treating COVID-19 What is the problem?

Ivermectin is an inexpensive, medication that is already widely used to treat parasitic infections and due

The method

A rapid systematic review was carried out and results from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and controlled non-randomised studies were pooled together to look at the effects of ivermectin compared with no ivermectin (usual care) to prevent transmission of COVID-19 infections and to reduce progression to serious disease and death in those that were already infected. Studies were assessed for risk of bias and the evidence for each outcome was graded to reflect the certainty or uncertainty or findings. The term ‘probably’ was used to interpret moderate certainty evidence and the term ‘may’ for low certainty evidence, in accordance with Cochrane standards.

The evidence

Twelve of the included studies evaluated ivermectin to treat COVID-19 in people with mild, moderate and severe disease.

Evidence from five RCTs suggests that ivermectin probably reduces deaths by an average of 83% (somewhere between 65% to 92%) compared with no ivermectin treatment. For people being treated for COVID-19 the risk of death was 1.4% for people in the ivermectin group compared with 8.4% among those in the control group. The findings were assessed as being of moderate certainty as some of the included studies were at risk of bias.

For other important outcomes, results also seemed to favour the ivermectin group. Moderate certainty evidence suggested that ivermectin probably increases the likelihood of people with mild to moderate COVID-19 improving by about 34% (22% to 48%) compared with those receiving no ivermectin treatment. There was also evidence that the length of time people spent in hospital was reduced in those receiving ivermectin compared with people in the control group, although this evidence was assessed as being of low certainty.

Five of the included studies involving 2045 participants examined whether ivermectin reduced the transmission of COVID-19 among health care workers and patient contacts.

Across the world deaths from COVID-19 reached 1,876,100 in early 2021; in the UK alone by

late December 2020 deaths involving COVID-19 were more than 80,000. In addition, the

virus causes a considerable burden of morbidity and leads to hospitalisations.

to its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties it has been assessed to look at its effects on

the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 infection.

Findings suggested that ivermectin prophylaxis among health care workers and COVID-19 contacts probably reduces the risk of COVID-19 infection by about 88%; in the ivermectin group 4.3% were infected with COVID-19 compared with 34.5% in the control group.

Conclusions

Ivermectin probably reduces deaths in people with COVID-19 and may reduce disease progression and the length of time people need to be looked after in hospital. Findings from the studies included in the review are compelling. If the findings from these studies were applied to UK deaths involving COVID-19 (82,615) it is possible that ivermectin treatment may have saved 53,700 to 76,006 lives.