'Unproven drug being used as preventative against Covid in South American countries'

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on October 21, 2020

As much of the world waits for an effective vaccine to curb the Covid pandemic, some countries in Latin America are turning to an unproven treatment. There isn’t enough evidence that the drug, Ivermectin, is safe or effective as a coronavirus therapy, acclaimed science journal, Nature has reported.

The journal said Ivermectin is an inexpensive, over-the-counter medicine, which has been used for decades to treat livestock and people infested with parasitic worms. However, in the past few months, its popularity as a preventative against Covid has surged in Peru, Bolivia, Guatemala and other Latin American countries, the journal said.

Researchers are cautioning against using it outside clinical trials. Still, people in the region have rushed to take it, making it hard for researchers to properly test it.

The drug has been so in demand that in May, healthcare workers passed out some 350,000 doses to residents in northern Bolivia. That same month, the Peruvian police seized around 20,000 bottles of animal-grade Ivermectin that were sold on the black market as a treatment for human coronavirus infections. And in July, a university in Peru announced that it would produce 30,000 doses to bolster the country’s supply, the journal said.

But the evidence that Ivermectin protects people from Covid is scant. Some early studies in cells and humans hinted that the drug has antiviral properties, but since then, clinical trials in Latin America have struggled to recruit participants because so many are already consuming it, the journal added.

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Published on October 21, 2020

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