SA professor agrees with FDA warning issued against use of ivermectin to treat Covid-19 in humans

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • The Food and Drug Administration in the US has urged the public to stop using livestock drug ivermectin to treat Covid-19.
  • In South Africa, ivermectin is registered for use in animals.
  • Reacting to the FDA's warning, Wits professor of vaccinology Shabir Madhi says there is no scientific evidence to support its use for the treatment of Covid-19 in humans.

There is no robust scientific evidence to support the use of ivermectin for the treatment of Covid-19, says University of the Witwatersrand professor of vaccinology, Shabir Madhi.

He was reacting to the recent warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US about the use of the drug, which is meant for animals. In South Africa, ivermectin is registered for use in animals, which allows veterinarians and other trained personnel to prescribe it as an anti-parasitic agent for a variety of animals.

"[The] bottom line is that there is no robust scientific evidence to support its use as prophylaxis or treatment of Covid-19. Last week saw the retraction of the original meta-analysis that suggested that there might be some benefit. However, it's been retracted, as one of the major studies that influenced the results has been uncovered to being scientifically flawed," he said.

He referred to a tweet by senior visiting research fellow at the University of Liverpool's pharmacology department, Dr Andrew Hill, that the original research which suggested ivermectin might benefit humans has been withdrawn due to the scientifically flawed studies it relied on.

In a statement, the FDA said using any unapproved drug could cause serious harm, adding that ivermectin was not an antiviral drug.

"There seems to be a growing interest in a drug called ivermectin to treat humans with Covid-19. Ivermectin is often used in the US to treat or prevent parasites in animals. The FDA has received multiple reports of patients who have required medical support and been hospitalised after self-medicating with ivermectin, intended for horses," the health authority said in the statement.

The drug has been touted locally and some medical practitioners have been dispensing it for the treatment of Covid-19.

Earlier this year, the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on Covid-19 wrote to the Ministry of Health to advise against the use of the drug on the basis that it was not registered for human use and that there was no scientific evidence to show that it was effective.

In responding to growing calls to have ivermectin approved, the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) said there was no sufficient scientific evidence on its efficacy for the prevention or treatment of Covid-19.

"We wish to assure the public that Sahpra has been and will continue to monitor emerging data regarding the use of ivermectin for the treatment of Covid-19. Sahpra has received no application for the registration of an ivermectin-containing medicine for Covid-19," CEO Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela said.

The drug paralyses and kills parasites in animals, Sahpra noted.

If you come across Covid-19 vaccination information that you do not trust, read Covid-19 vaccine myths debunked: Get the facts here. If you can't find the facts you're looking for, email us at the address mentioned in the article and we will verify the information with medical professionals.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Eskom has considered continuous load shedding at Stage 2, instead of introducing it when the power system faces a crunch. What are your thoughts?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
I'm all for it - we're going to have power cuts regardless, so we might as well have some stability to better plan our lives
45% - 4183 votes
No thanks! I prefer having periods of no load shedding and we cannot normalise this crisis
55% - 5059 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.