South Africa

Ivermectin could be a bridge until vaccine is available – expert

Cape Town - A leading front-line doctor from the US says there is growing evidence for the use of Ivermectin against Covid-19 and that it could be a complementary bridge until the vaccine is widely available.

Pulmonary and critical care specialist Pierre Kory says, “it is certainly another tool in the toolkit and we need everything we can to go after this pandemic”.

Kory is also the president of the Front-Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) which is a group of critical care specialists. They publish academic authors dedicated to developing effective treatment protocols to prevent the transmission of the virus.

“It’s not that I think that Ivermectin can help people. I know it helps people … It shows quicker time to viral clearance, lower viral loads, faster times to recovery and lowered mortality rates. ” Kory said.

One of the most profound effects of Ivermectin, he says, is that it has been shown to prevent transmission of the virus.

“We need enough supplies, governments need to put this into policy, we need manufacturing capabilities and we have to treat those who are sick,” said Kory.

In a series of tweets, Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize said that as it stands Ivermectin is not registered for human use in the country and remains to be registered for use in animals.

“Our guide is WHO, they have not recommended the use of Ivermectin. We need to ensure that the correct trials have taken place, before Sahpra can approve the use,” Mkhize said in a tweet.

"There is a special arrangement on section 21, which doctors are able to apply for. We are aware of the outcry, there is a team that will be looking at it,“ he said.

Sahpra requires Section 21 applications before the authorisation of an unregistered medicine sale can be granted.

A general practitioner from Durban, Dr Naseeba Kathrada who headed up a petition urging President Cyril Ramaphosa to set up an urgent special council to conduct a rapid review of the drug, says the pandemic has brought to light the holes in the country’s health-care system.

“We are in a state of emergency. Yes, Sahpra has a set of rules, but they want us to apply for a section 21 for every patient. That’s why I wrote the letter to the president, because filling out the forms is a long process and we need to tend to our patients,” she said.

What is the FLCCC?

The non-profit organication was formed by leading critical care specialists in March 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic.

The FLCCC reviews and conducts its own clinical trials of Ivermectin and the group’s manuscript was recently accepted for publication.

Kory says the FLCCC was not the first group to research the use of the drug against Covid-19, it is rather the first group to bring it to the world’s attention.

“All of the doctors in this group from the beginning researched every aspect of Covid-19 and we also learned at the patient’s bedside. All of us have worked so hard in the ICUs, studying, learning, and figuring out how to treat patients. Our group has received international attention for our protocols and our identification of therapies that work,” said Kory.

How does Ivermectin work?

According to the FLCCC, existing data shows that there are 10 main properties of the drug that proves it works.

1. Over the past decade, multiple studies have demonstrated that Ivermectin prevents the replication of many viruses, including influenza and Zika. The drug also prevents the replication of Covid-19, leading to absence of nearly all viral material within two days.

2. Ivermectin has anti-inflammatory properties. Several studies have shown that a common feature for patients that get severe Covid-19 is caused by an overly vigorous immune response and a hyper-inflammatory response.

4. Ivermectin prevents transmission whether taken either pre- or post-exposure.

5. It hastens recovery and prevents deterioration in patients with mild to moderate symptoms, 88% of the patients made a full recovery and experienced none of the symptoms after two doses.

6. It has been shown to reduce the number of ICU admissions and deaths in hospitalised patients.

7. Ivermectin reduces mortality in critically ill patients with Covid-19.

8. Ivermectin leads to reductions in case-fatality rates in regions with widespread use.

9. It has been shown to be a safe and affordable drug with minimal side effects for over 40 years of use and billions of doses administered.

10. The WHO has long included Ivermectin on its “List of essential medicines”.

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