Ivermectin to undergo rigorous clinical trial as COVID treatment

The cheap, generic anti-parasite drug Ivermectin finally is to undergo rigorous clinical trials in a first-world nation for use in fighting COVID-19.  Japan has been hit with a second wave of COVID cases, and as a result, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (population: 13.8 million) is looking for approaches that could minimize stress on available hospital beds.  Nikkei Asia reports (Nikkei is Japan's leading business daily, comparable to the Wall Street Journal):

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to conduct clinical trials of the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin at metropolitan and public hospitals to assess its effectiveness against COVID-19, Nikkei has learned.

Clinical trials will be conducted on patients with mild symptoms. Patients who are hospitalized mostly have moderate or serious symptoms. The metropolitan government will finalize the details of the study, including the size and duration of clinical trials, after the infection situation settles down.

The Tokyo government hopes to support the trials using some beds at metropolitan and public hospitals. Ivermectin will be given to patients with mild symptoms, comparing their response with those receiving a placebo.

Ivermectin has been widely used against COVID in Peru, and according to the abstract of this published study:

For the 24 states with early IVM treatment (and Lima), excess deaths dropped 59% (25%) at +30 days and 75% (25%) at +45 days after day of peak deaths. Case fatalities likewise dropped sharply in all states but Lima, yet six indices of Google-tracked community mobility rose over the same period. For nine states having mass distributions of IVM in a short timeframe through a national program, Mega-Operación Tayta (MOT), excess deaths at +30 days dropped by a population-weighted mean of 74%, each drop beginning within 11 day after MOT start. Extraneous causes of mortality reductions were ruled out. These sharp major reductions in COVID-19 mortality following IVM treatment thus occurred in each of Peru's states, with such especially sharp reductions in close time conjunction with IVM treatments in each of the nine states of operation MOT. Its safety well established even at high doses, IVM is a compelling option for immediate, large scale national deployments as an interim measure and complement to pandemic control through vaccinations.

However, other medical authorities are skeptical:

[T]he safety and efficacy of this drug in preventing and treating this illness is not yet proven, especially because the studies were poorly designed. This has cast doubt on the accuracy of the effect measures. 

That's why a clinical study in a medically advanced rich country is so significant.  Japan has a large and thriving pharmaceutical industry as well as a respected medical research capability.  In fact, Ivermectin was developed in Japan by Kitasato University professor emeritus Satoshi Omura, who won the 2015 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his feat.  But, notably, Japan's pharmaceutical industry has not produced a vaccine for use on COVID.

Argentina has also reported extremely promising results using Ivermectin, in a trial known as IVECAR.

One of the more noteworthy trials relates to the use of ivermectin as a preventative treatment for Covid-19.  This study, known as the IVECAR trial, was carried out in Argentina and people working in the health system were assigned either to a comparator arm (and were not given the study medications) and others assigned to take ivermectin and a nasal spray containing the seaweed extract carrageenan* for 14 days. (All health care workers in the study used PPE in accordance with normal practice when caring for Covid-19 patients.)  The results were impressive.  Quoting from the study:

"The overall infection rate in health care workers recruited for this study was 20% with 237 testing positive for CoVid 19 during the 3 month study recruitment. Of those infected, all patients were from the comparator group of using PPE alone. This represented an overall infection rate of 58.2% ( 237 of 407) in the PPE group. No patients of the 788 treated with IVERCAR tested positive for CoVid 19 during the study."   [Emphasis added.] [7]

A study of patients who were hospitalised with Covid-19 also showed encouraging results with a subgroup of patients who had "severe pulmonary involvement" who received ivermectin having half the mortality rate of those who did not receive ivermectin. (These ivermectin treated patients had 38.8% mortality rate versus 80.7% of comparably ill patients who did not receive this medication.)

Yesterday, Senator Ron Johnson (who rapidly and completely recovered from COVID) mentioned the IVERCAR study about ten minutes into this interview with Maria Bartiromo.

Photo credit: author.