Ivermectin, a drug used to treat parasite infections in livestock and humans, is set to be investigated as a possible treatment for COVID-19 in a large United Kingdom study which is being conducted at the University of Oxford.
Lab studies have shown that the use of the therapy reduces the replication of SARS-CoV-2, with other smaller pilot studies demonstrating a reduction in viral load and duration of symptoms with early administration.
The therapy will be added to the PRINCIPAL Trial, a large clinical trial designed to assess potential COVID-19 therapies for non-hospitalized patients, including at-home recovery, who are at higher risk of progressing to serious illness.
Individuals may participate in the trial if they are between the ages of 18 and 64 and have some underlying health conditions or shortness of breath from COVID-19, or if they are aged 65 and above.
The trial will see participants given a 3-day course of ivermectin, with follow up for 28 days. The trial will compare the drug to the usual standard of National Health Service (NHS) care.
The trial will enroll subjects within the initial 14 days of Covid-19 symptoms or a positive test.
While the therapy is already being used routinely for the treatment of Covid-19 in some countries, there is not yet enough data from large-scale, randomized, controlled clinical trials available to validate its effect on recovery speed or decreasing hospitalization.
“Ivermectin is readily available globally, has been in wide use for many other infectious conditions so it’s a well-known medicine with a good safety profile, and because of the early promising results in some studies it is already being widely used to treat Covid-19 in several countries,” Chris Butler, joint chief investigator on the study said. “By including ivermectin in a large-scale trial like PRINCIPLE, we hope to generate robust evidence to determine how effective the treatment is against Covid-19, and whether there are benefits or harms associated with its use.”