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US trial of ivermectin cuts coronavirus mortality by 40%

Published on 10/06/20 at 11:07am
Photo: Conor Ashleigh for AusAID

A US clinical trial of the drug ivermectin found that it reduced the mortality rate of COVID-19 patients by 40%.

This study was published in medRxiv and was led by Dr Jean-Jacques Rajter a physician at Broward Health Medical Center. The study assessed 280 coronavirus patients over the age of 18, with 173 being treated with the drug and 107 having standard care for the virus. The study found that overall mortality in those who took the treatment was 15% compared to those who did not take it, who had a 25% mortality rate. This would equate to a 40% drop overall.

The most notable result in the study showed that the drug had a significant effect on the very high risk group of COVID-19 patients suffering from severe pulmonary disease. Of the patients who did not receive ivermectin, 81% died, while only 39% died when receiving the treatment, improving their survival odds by just over 50%.

Ivermectin was developed in the 1970s as a new class of drug to treat parasitic infections. It was initially used in veterinary medicine before being used to treat onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis. 3.7 billion doses are estimated to have been given since its approval. It has also been studied as a potential treatment for influenza and HIV.

Dr Peter Hibberd, a board certified emergency medicine physician, said on the trial: “This drug has been used for over 30 years by millions of people around the world and has a marked safety base. We understand fully its side effects, and the effect of a single dose in such a critically diseased state cannot be ignored. That’s why the results were so surprising, because these people had damage in their lungs with a rapidly downhill progression and their clinical course stabilised within 24 to 48 hours.”

The study is still up for peer review, but if this and future studies prove accurate the drug could be a significant advancement in treating COVID-19 patients.

Conor Kavanagh

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