The head lice drug ivermectin has yet again been touted in the media as a possible treatment for COVID-19. But despite the favourable headlines, huge uncertainty remains about whether this treatment can be safely and effectively repurposed to tackle the coronavirus.
In recent weeks the media has been awash with claims ivermectin, when given in combination with the common antibiotic doxycycline and zinc supplements, is effectively a “cure” for COVID-19.
The World Health Organisation’s database of clinical studies for COVID-19 shows there are currently 16 trials investigating ivermectin. Even these studies are unlikely to provide the high-quality data necessary to show ivermectin can actually provide its touted benefits.
Many of the current studies have low numbers of participants, weak study designs, and inconsistent (and relatively low) ivermectin dosing regimes, with ivermectin frequently given in combination with other drugs.
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