Contradictory reports have recently surfaced with regards to a medicine commonly utilised to treat parasite infestations. Goa health minister Vishwajit Rane on Monday announced that ivermectin- an orally-administered drug used to treat parasitic infections - will be given to all adults in the state. A day later, confusion abounds as World Health Organization chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan took to Twitter with a cautionary message against its usage to treat COVID-19.
At the same time, many medical experts have flagged the decision, questioning the efficacy of the five-day duration of the drug regimen. The Opposition Congress also queried whether such a recommendation was approved by the Centre or the WHO.
As per reports, Rane had said that people will be given ivermectin 12 mg for five days as expert panels from the UK, Italy, Spain and Japan have found a statistically significant reduction in mortality, time to recovery and viral clearance in COVID-19 patients treated with this medicine.
"Safety and efficacy are important when using any drug for a new indication. WHO recommends against the use of ivermectin for COVID-19 except within clinical trials," tweeted Swaminathan, sharing a Merck statement from February. As per the statement, Merck contends that there is no scientific basis to back it's potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19 and a "concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies".
"The current evidence on the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 patients is inconclusive. Until more data is available, WHO recommends that the drug only be used within clinical trials," the health body wrote on March 31 this year. The document however notes that the researchers had not looked into the use of ivermectin to prevent COVID-19, stating that this was "outside of scope of the current guidelines".
To clarify, the latter is what the Goa government is looking to achieve. As mentioned earlier, the Health Minister has decreed that all individuals above 18 years in Goa will be given Ivermectin drug irrespective of their coronavirus status to bring down mortality.