Coronavirus

Anti-parasite drug ivermectin shown to be effective against coronavirus

Australian scientists have published a paper showing the anti-parasitic drug can reduce the viral load up to 5,000 times in a cell culture infected with the Covid-19 virus.

Anti-parasite drug ivermectin shown to be effective against coronavirus
Alessio Coser Getty Images

Australian scientists have published research indicating that ivermectin, an approved anti-parasitic drug that is available worldwide, is highly effective against the Covid-19 virus when applied to an infected cell culture. The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than a million people worldwide and caused over 50,000 deaths. At present there is no vaccine nor treatment for the disease.

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Ivermectin slashes coronavirus viral load in vitro

The collaborative study led by Monash University's Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) with the Peter Doherty Institute of Infection and Immunity showed that ivermectin reduced Covid-19 viral RNA present in the cell culture by 93% after 24 hours and by 99.8% after 48 hours - around a 5,000-fold reduction in coronavirus RNA, indicating that the ivermectin treatment was leading to the loss of "essentially all viral material".

Dr Kylie Wagstaff from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, said ""We found that even a single dose could essentially remove all viral RNA by 48 hours and that even at 24 hours there was a really significant reduction in it."

Dr Wagstaff cautioned that the tests were carried out in vitro and trials would need to be carried out in people to see if the drug was truly effective against Covid-19.

Effective anti-viral could be key in the fight against Covid-19

The paper says that development of an effective anti-viral for the coronavirus, if given to patients early on in their infection could limit their viral load, stop the disease progressing and prevent transmission. They believe that ivermectin could be a useful antiviral in the fight against Covid-19.

Ivermectin is also being studied as a potential treatment for a number of other viruses, including dengue fever, HIV and Zika. It is on the World Health Organisation's list of essential medicines for the treatment of parasite infections, including head lice, scabies, river blindness, threadworm and whipworm, among others.