Does Ivermectin Work Against Coronavirus? Experts Remain Divided.

Everyone wants to know: is there a pill for COVID?  Is it ivermectin?  Does it work?  Unfortunately, the experts remain divided.

In this country perhaps the leading ivermectin advocate is a doctor we profiled a year ago: Paul Marik.  Dr. Marik and friends have organized themselves as the Front Line Covid Clinical Care Alliance, which, along with allies around the world, has been amassing evidence of ivermectin efficacy.  

There is a large group of skeptics who want evidence in the form of peer reviewed RCTs (placebo-controlled Randomized Clinical Trials) though.  The problem? one has wanted to fund those trials.  The major pharmaceutical company that launched ivermectin, Merck, made ivermectin public domain years ago, and is now a partner in a rival antiviral that has not yet been FDA certified but does appear to enjoy U.S. government support, Molnupiravir.

Recently, the folks at Duke University have prevailed upon the NCATS division at NIH to launch a major government study of ivermectin, ACTIV-6.  There's also a major Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation study out of McMaster University in Canada.  But while we in the U.S., with vaccines and monoclonal antibodies as go-tos in our major urban centers, may be able to wait, the rest of the world really can't.  Anecdotally, ivermectin does seem to be outperforming alternatives like hydroxychloroquine and favipiravir when given early (before the disease becomes severe) and at a dose that's a little higher than has conventionally been given to humans for use against parasites.

The bottom line is, whether to prescribe ivermectin off-label remains up to individual doctors to decide, without a lot of guidance.  Health authorities warn against taking veterinary ivermectin; most doctors agree on that.