Australian scientists have yet again found a potential cure for the coronavirus disease, also known as COVID-19. Still, it’s one that not anyone would expect because it’s a drug often prescribed for head lice or scabies.
In a report by the Daily Mail, ivermectin is used in both the US and NHS as an anti-parasitic drug, Australian researchers believe it could be useful against COVID-19.
Researchers from the Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, found that ivermectin could impede the replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a laboratory setting in under 48 hours, according to the study that was published in Antiviral Research.
Healthy cells were infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, or the novel coronavirus, for two hours, and then ivermectin was injected.
The test conducted by the Australian researchers showed that even a single dose of the anti-parasitic drug was enough to significantly reduce viral RNA during the first 28 hours, then wiping out 99.8% by 48 hours.
On the third day, coronavirus was eliminated entirely.
Although the researchers are not yet sure how exactly ivermectin can kill coronavirus, they believe that the drug paralyzes the virus and “overwhelms its nervous system,” which then impedes its replication process.
“Ivermectin is very widely used and seen as a safe drug. We need to figure out now whether the dosage you can use it in humans will be effective. That’s the next step,” said Dr. Kylie Wagstaff, the study’s leader.
The researchers believe that with the help of their study, they can create an antiviral made from ivermectin, which could be injected to COVID-19 patients early in the infection to prevent the progression of the disease.
Additionally, it could also limit the progression of person-to-person transmission.
According to Newsweek, among the team was Dr. Leon Caly, a virologist who was part of the team that first isolated and shared SARS-CoV-2 outside of China, coronavirus’ alleged origin, back in January 2020.
Caly expressed his excitement at the prospect of ivermectin as a potential antiviral drug against COVID-19.
Since the Australian scientists believe the drug has antiviral properties, they wish to carry out human trials and do further research focusing on the anti-parasitic drug and its effectiveness in stopping and killing coronavirus.
However, the study was only done in vitro, meaning ivermectin is only used with cells made from laboratories.
Nevertheless, the team has noted that ivermectin is already proven to be safe for use and is approved by both the FDA and the MHRA.
Ivermectin was discovered in the 1970s but became widely used in the ’80s as an effective medicine against head lice, scabies, and other parasitic infections, and it is available in pill, shampoo, and lotion.
Although the drug shows promise, health officials are warning the public against self-medicating and using the drug to treat or prevent COVID-19.
Based on a report by ABC News, Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos is urging the public not to misuse the substance, nor rush to pharmacies to buy lice treatments and use them in a “completely inappropriate way” as it could be fatal.
As of now, all we can do is stay indoors to avoid coronavirus infection or to rush to a hospital to seek medical attention if you suspect you have COVID-19 and let experts provide necessary treatments.