Good news from a new study which shows that a “cheap, antiparasitic drug” has been shown to have a significant effect in reducing mortality in patients with moderate to severe Covid-19. 

The drug, Ivermectin, is approved in many countries, and has been in use and off-patent for years. The preliminary findings suggest it could make an inexpensive tool in the fight against Covid-19.

The Financial Times reports that a research team led by the University of Liverpool’s Andrew Hill  “carried out a meta-analytical breakdown of 18 studies that found that ivermectin was associated with reduced inflammation and a faster elimination of Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.”

In six of the trials under examination, the risk of death from Covid-19 was reduced by 75 per cent in one subset of patients who were suffering moderate to severe symptoms of coronavirus.

The only antiviral being used to treat Covid-19 at the moment is Remdesiver which is produced by Gilead Sciences and has shown some improvement in hospital release time for patients with Covid-19, but has not shown a clear improvement in death rates or in the viral load, which is a measure at to how much of the virus is in circulation in the patient’s blood stream.

Ivermectin has not been categorised as an antiviral, but the results of the meta-analyses shows the drug may have antiviral properties.  Dr Hill told the Financial Times that it is “a generic drug used all over the world. It costs 12 cents to make the drug substance”.

“[T]his might help reduce infection rates by making people less infectious and it might reduce death rates by treating the viral infection,” he said.

However, the researchers cautioned that many of the studies included “were not peer reviewed” and noted that “meta-analyses are prone to confounding issues”. While  Ivermectin should be validated in larger, appropriately controlled randomized trials before the results are sufficient for review by regulatory authorities.