Australian researchers have published a study revealing that a single dose of the anti-parasite drug, Ivermectin, can kill COVID-19 within 48 hours.
According to Newsweek, a study by researchers at Monash University showed a single dose of Ivermectin could stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus growing in cell culture.
“We found that even a single dose could essentially remove all viral RNA (effectively removed all genetic material of the virus) by 48 hours and that even at 24 hours there was a really significant reduction in it,” one of the researchers, Kylie Wagstaff, was quoted as saying.
Ivermectin is an approved anti-parasitic drug. It has also shown to be effective in vitro against viruses including HIV, dengue and influenza. Ivermectin is used to treat head lice, scabies and river blindness and is widely available.
This study is the joint work of Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute and the Peter Doherty Institute of Infection and Immunity.
The research was carried out on cell cultures in the lab, which does not always translate to effectiveness in people who have contracted an infection. Ivermectin has been effective against a wide range of viruses when studied in vitro. Further research will be needed to determine whether the drug could be used to treat COVID-19.
Although the virus has only been known to exist for a few months, at least some of the team involved in the new study already had prior experience working with it.
It is not known how Ivermectin works on the virus, but it is believed that the drug likely stops the virus dampening the host cells’ ability to clear it.
The report said the next step is for scientists to determine the correct human dosage, to make sure the level used in vitro is safe for humans.
In the report, Mr Wagstaffs said in times of a global pandemic, where an approved treatment is not available, any available compound around the world that will help people sooner should be made known.
“Realistically, it’s going to be a while before a vaccine is broadly available,” it said.
Scientists expect it could be at least a month before human trials.
Before Ivermectin can be used to combat coronavirus, funding is needed to get it to pre-clinical testing and clinical trials.
Researchers have been making efforts to confirm if chloroquine can cure the virus.
However, another potential drug has risen to the forefront.
Remdesivir, developed by Gilead Pharmaceuticals, seems to be highly effective at preventing viruses—including Coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS, and filoviruses such as Ebola—from replicating.
In late February, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases launched a clinical trial for Remdesivir. And this month Gilead launched two phase III trials of the drug in medical centers in Asia.
Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have not been appropriately evaluated in controlled studies, not to mention that they have numerous and, in some cases, very deadly side effects.