My name is Dr Martin Gill and I’m an ENT specialist based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Ivermectin is a medication used to treat many types of parasite infestations and has been in use around the world for over 40 years for treatment of head lice, scabies, river blindness (onchocerciasis), strongyloidiasis, trichuriasis, ascariasis, and lymphatic filariasis.
Most recently it has been used as a prophylaxis and treatment for Covid-19.
This website will review the latest developments in the use of Ivermectin in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ivermectin for prophylaxis and treatment of Covid-19 in South Africa
The world is in the grip of the worst pandemic of our lifetime. There have been more than 1.5 million deaths so far and no end in sight. A vaccine is one of the solutions, but will only start to have an impact on the disease in the middle of next year. However, in South Africa the impact is likely to be felt even later, as it is uncertain as to when it will be available locally.
The only alternative to a vaccine is medical treatment and the most significant drug available at present is Ivermectin.
This is the only medication that is effective as a prophylactic drug and a treatment in all stages of the disease. It has also been shown to be an effective treatment in the later stages of the disease to settle down the inflammatory process in the long haulers.
Ivermectin is registered for the treatment of tropical diseases and parasites and has been used to treat humans for various conditions for more than 35 years. In excess of 3.7 billion doses have been administered to humans, with virtually no recorded severe side effects. In addition to being extremely safe, it has the advantage of being a low cost drug, all in all being a strong contender for the treatment of Covid-19.
Mechanism of action
Ivermectin is effective in the treatment of tropical diseases and parasites, by attaching to glutamate receptors that do not occur in humans. Above 20 times the therapeutic dose has been proved to be safe.
At this stage there are at least 27 peer reviewed journal articles available on Ivermectin as a treatment for Covid-19. Of 7000 patients included in these studies, 3000 participated in prospective placebo-controlled double-blind studies. Hence, there is a significant amount of information available to us on the safety and effectiveness of Ivermectin.
Ivermectin mechanism of controlling infection:
- it competes with the ACE 2 inhibitors, reducing the virus’ ability to enter a cell
- it inhibits the virus’ ability to turn off the intra cellular immunity
- it enhances the activation of the intracellular immunity of surrounding cells and halts local spread of the virus in the body
- it blocks the pathways in the cell that trigger cytokine formation and in so doing prevents the development of a cytokine storm
- it may attach to the CD147 receptor on erythrocytes and platelets, as well as endothelial cell walls. This receptor is a spike protein receptor and is thought to be used to mop up viruses in the blood stream and to contain them for easy removal by macrophage
Ivermectin is highly effective as a prophylactic drug for COVID-19. There is documented research producing evidence of a close to zero rate of transmission in old age homes and also very low transmission rates amongst families prophylactically taking the drug whilst caring for family members who were Covid-19 positive. Ivermectin controls and inhibits viral replication in the early stages of the disease and reduces the severity of the disease in the later, infective stages.
In the final phase of the disease, the use of Ivermectin can reduce mortality rates by as much as 30%. Being a potent anti-inflammatory, it settles down the inflammatory process that causes prolonged symptoms in long haulers.
If made widely available for treatment and prophylaxis, Ivermectin has a significant effect on new infection rates and mortality. This could restore pre-Covid infection rates within a few weeks, thus controlling the feared second and third waves of the pandemic.
In summary, Ivermectin is the most significant, safe and cost-effective drug for treatment in all phases of Covid-19 infections. Until such time as herd immunity is achieved and vaccines are widely available, it is the best, immediate option for keeping the pandemic under control in South Africa.
References are all contained in following article.