Early preliminary studies showed that Ivermectin reduced virus replication in laboratory studies, the University said, adding that a small pilot has shown that early administration of the drug can reduce viral load and duration of symptoms in some patients with mild COVID-19.
Ivermectin has been used for decades to treat animals infested with parasitic worms, while in humans it is used as a topical ointment for diseases, including skin infections.
It has already been approved for compassionate use in a controlled access program in South Africa, and health officials have reported widespread use of the drug on the black market.
The World Health Organization and the European Medicines Agency recommend that it be used only in clinical trials, as more data is needed to support its use.
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The drug will be reviewed as part of the Platform for Randomized Community Treatment Trials for Epidemic and Pandemic Diseases, or Principle, the world’s largest clinical trial of potential treatments for the virus in non-hospital settings.
Eligible UK participants with symptoms of Covid-19 can participate in the ivermectin study, which is being evaluated alongside the antiviral influenza antiviral favipiravir.
“By including ivermectin in a large-scale trial like the Principle, we hope to generate robust evidence to determine the effectiveness of the Covid-19 treatment and whether there are benefits or harms associated with its use,” said Chris Butler, professor of medicine at the University from Oxford and one of the lead authors of the study.
People with severe liver problems, who are taking drugs to thin blood warfarin, or taking other treatments known to interact with ivermectin, will be excluded from the study, the university added.