DURBAN – South African epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist Professor Salim Abdool Karim has warned against administering ivermectin in the treatment of patients with Covid.
In an interview with TBEN on Tuesday, Karim said the current evidence for ivermectin was severely insufficient for ivermectin to be prescribed for Covid-19.
“The ivermectin available in South Africa is only intended for animal use. It would be professional misconduct on the part of any doctor to prescribe it and any pharmacist to dispense it, ”he declared.
Karim, who heads the Ministerial Health Advisory Committee (MAC) on Covid-19, said that until stronger evidence is available, the routine use of ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of Covid -19 was not justified.
In a MAC statement, Karim said new evidence should be actively sought out and carefully considered.
“Reports of clinical trials on ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of Covid-19 should be closely monitored, as they become available. As always, reports in peer-reviewed publications will be preferred.
“An effective message must be developed to communicate to both the general public and healthcare professionals that the use of unregulated products believed to contain ivermectin is risky and unethical at this point. Unregulated distribution channels run the risk of introducing substandard and falsified products, which can be harmful to human health, ”he said.
Last week, the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) said ivermectin was not indicated or approved by the authority for use in humans.
The drug, which has been dubbed a Covid-19 “miracle cure” is a drug widely used for the treatment and control of parasites in animals and is used to treat several tropical diseases in humans rarely seen in South Africa, as well. than scabies and head lice.
According to SAHPRA, in SA, ivermectin is registered for use in animals. This means that veterinarians and other trained personnel are authorized to prescribe it as a pest control agent for a variety of animals.
In an interview with the Mail & Guardian, the deputy executive director of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand and a prominent virology expert Francois Venter said he supported the SAHPRA’s decision not to approve ivermectin.
“Just because some silly doctor decided to illegally give it to someone and it worked… you know most people get better with Covid. So someone says he gave it to someone and got better, well, he’ll be better anyway.
“Your wonder drug may be doing absolutely nothing. In fact, it could cause harm. Like chloroquine for example, where it just didn’t work and in some cases could have caused damage. It is really unwise in my opinion to rush into this without the adequate efficacy and safety studies in the local population, ”he said.
Read SAHPRA’s full position on ivermectin here.