Erudite scholars and scientists in Nigeria have proposed the use of Ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19 alongside other existing treatment and prevention guidelines such as social distancing, face masking and hygiene or vaccinations.
Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic drug primarily used to treat onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, strongyloidiasis, cutaneous larva migrans, and scabies.
The drug is known to exert antiviral activity against RNA viruses, probably by inhibiting the import of host and viral proteins to the nucleus. Regarding COVID-19 treatment, several observational studies, clinical trials, and in vitro studies have shown that ivermectin has the potential to be used as an antiviral medicine against SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The researchers including Prof. Femi Babalola, an Ophthalmologist and surgeon; Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Prof. Chris Bode; Chairman of the Medical Advisory Council at LUTH, Prof. Lanre Adeyemo; a US-based Clinical Pharmacologist and others, presented the result of their study on the usefulness of the drug to the World Health Organisation which has already appointed a Peer Review expert from the United Kingdom.
Briefing the Vice President Yemi Osinajo on their findings on Tuesday, the team led by Prof. Femi Babalola, principal investigator recommended that “Ivermectin should be considered for adoption into the uniform treatment guidelines of COVID- 19 in Nigeria”.
The study, titled: “A randomised controlled trial for the repurposing of Ivermectin in the management of COVID-19”, was conducted at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), following the report of a 5,000-fold reduction in viral load by Australian workers with in-vitro use of Ivermectin on COVID-19 in culture.
Their findings revealed the mechanism of action of Ivermectin, which include “Inhibiting viral entry into cells nucleus; and “Direct suppression of viral RNA load of SARS CoV 2,” among others.
Ivermectin is orally absorbed with higher absorption as a solution better than tablets, and “The Mean Residence Time” (MRT) is 3.4 days. This informs the suggested frequency of dosing, i.e. twice a week
The study indicated that clinical trials of Ivermectin have been carried out in at least 21 countries worldwide, including Nigeria. It referenced the “Meta-analysis of clinical trials of Ivermectin to treat COVID-19 infection” by Dr Andrew Hill, Department of Pharmacology, University of Liverpool, UK.
Principal Investigator of the team, Prof. Babalola has worked extensively with Ivermectin on the Onchocerciasis-River Blindness control programme, through which many Nigerians have used Ivermectin.
In its results so far, the study noted that the randomisation was effective based on distribution of age, sex and some clinical presentation at baseline such as cough and fever.
The overall results showed that the “Days-To-Negative (DTN) reduced by 3.8 days overall. While a few patients are negative by day two, 50 per cent are negative by day 5.”
Meanwhile the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has commended the efforts of the team, noting that with the report, Nigeria is at an advantage both in knowledge and availability of the drug, especially since Ivermectin has been found useful not only in the treatment of COVID-19, but also as a prophylactic medication.
He disclosed that the Federal Government will explore further ways to support the research for the benefit of Nigerians and humanity generally, while also advancing the effective funding of scientific research in the country.