NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists have scrambled to find possible treatments among already approved medications. Ivermectin, a drug used to treat parasites in both humans and animals, has recently been tested for its efficacy as a treatment for COVID-19. But does it work?
“The studies, unfortunately, show that this drug, as with some other drugs that have been tried, simply doesn’t work,” says Dr. William Schaffner, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt.
Despite the lack of evidence of the efficacy of Ivermectin, some doctors have prescribed it. The Associated Press reported that talk radio host Phil Valentine, currently hospitalized with COVID-19, was taking it. Ivermectin is prescribed at very specific doses for some parasitic worms. It is not an antiviral drug.
According to Dr. Schaffner, one issue is that people are taking unorthodox measures to obtain this medicine: “Some people have been getting doses from veterinarians if you can believe it. And of course, the veterinary formulations aren’t set up for human use.”
Often the dosages for animals, especially large ones like horses, are far too large for human use and may lead to serious side effects.
“Some of the side effects relate to intestinal disturbance, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, but others are a bit more serious, you can lose your sense of balance, which is not very good. And on occasion, it’s actually precipitated seizures and coma. And there have been some people who have died.”
The best way to prevent catching COVID-19 is through vaccination, says Dr. Schaffner. And if you do catch COVID-19, there are treatments available.
“As to treatment, you know, certain high-risk people as soon as they’re diagnosed, can be given monoclonal antibody treatment, which will prevent them from getting a more severe disease. And if you do become sick, we have a drug called remdesivir, and a steroid dexamethasone that are used in treatment.”