Skip to Content

Can Ivermectin be used to treat COVID-19 (coronavirus)?

Can Ivermectin be used to treat COVID-19 (coronavirus)?

Medically reviewed by Melisa Puckey, BPharm Last updated on Apr 4, 2020.

Official Answer

by Drugs.com
  • Ivermectin has been trialled in treating the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • The trials so far have shown ivermectin reduces the number of cell-associated viral RNA by 99.8 % in 24 hours. This was an in vitro study which means they were testing cells in a laboratory and not in a living organism.
  • Studies are now needed to be done on ivermectin on people or animals to see how well ivermectin works against COVID-19. This is in vivo testing. 
  • Ivermectin is currently a FDA  approved medicine for treatment of intestinal worms, Strongyloides stercoralis and Onchocerca volvulus. It has been established as safe for human use.

What is Ivermectin?

  • Ivermectin is currently used to treat parasite infections such as intestinal worms, lice and mites.
  • Recently ivermectin has also been studied to treat a range of viruses.

How does Ivermectin work on COVID-19?

  • For the SARS-CoV-2 virus to make you sick, it has to first infect your cells.
  • Then while inside the cell, the virus makes heaps of copies of itself, so it can spread around your body.
  • The virus also has ways of reducing the way your body fights the infection.
  • During the infection of the cell, some viral proteins go into the cell nucleus, and from here they can decrease the body’s ability to fight the virus, which means the infection can get worse.
  • To get into the nucleus the viral proteins need to bind a cargo transporter which lets them in.
  • Ivermectin can block the cargo transporter, so the viral proteins can’t get into the nucleus. This is how the scientists believe Ivermectin works against SARS-CoV-2 virus.
  • By taking Ivermectin, it means the body can fight the infection like normal, because its antiviral response hasn’t been reduced by the viral proteins.

Is Ivermectin an approved medicine by the FDA?

Ivermectin tablets (Stromectol) is an approved medicine by the FDA for use in intestinal worms Strongyloides stercoralis and Onchocerca volvulus

Ivermectin intended for animal use should not be taken by humans

Ivermectin cream 1% is approved for rosacea

Ivermectin tablets are also used off-label for a number of other conditions.

What happens next?

We will be waiting for clinical trials in patients to see how well ivermectin works in treating COVID-19.  They will be testing whether ivermectin decreases the symptoms, time for recovery and death rate from COVID-19.

As Ivermectin is already a FDA approved medicine we already know that it has been established as safe for human use.

Bottom line

  • Clinical trials in the laboratory (in vitro) on ivermectin show that ivermectin reduces the number of cell-associated viral RNA by 99.8 % in 24 hours, for the SARS-CoV-2 which is the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • More studies are needed to see if these positive results will be the same in human testing (in vivo) and whether ivermectin will decrease the symptoms, time for recovery and death rate from COVID-19.
  • Ivermectin is already a FDA approved medicine for some types of intestinal worms
  • It is known that ivermectin has a good safety profile.
References
  • https://www.drugs.com/mtm/ivermectin.html
  • https://www.drugs.com/ppa/ivermectin-systemic.html
  • https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3327999/

Related Medical Questions

Drug Information

Related Support Groups

Hide