Australian researchers found that an anti-parasitic drug which is initially used for the removal of headlice, can kill SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19 in just 48 hours.
The researchers, who were from the Monash University on Melbourne suggested that their study showed that a single dose of anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin can stop the growth of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in cell culture.
During the study, the researchers took healthy cells and injected them with the novel coronavirus. They waited for two hours before injecting the test drug into the cells.
The test results showed a significant reduction in the viral RNA in the first 28 hours after adding just a single dose of Ivermectin. After 48 hours almost 99.8% of the viral RN was already wiped out.
By the third day, SARS-CoV-2 has already been completely eliminated from the cells.
Ivermectin's mechanism against COVID-19 is still unknown
The researchers are still unable to tell for sure on how the anti-parasitic drug kills coronavirus. Whilst, its mechanism is still unknown, the researchers believe that the Ivermectin paralyzes the virus and overwhelms its powerhouse thus impeding the replication process.
According to the leader of the team, Dr. Kylie Wagstaff, Ivermectin is widely used and is a very safe drug. He added that what is needed to study and figure out, at what dosage it would be effective and safe for human use.
The team of researchers believe that they can create an antiviral made from ivermectin with the help of the findings in their last test. The test can possibly help make drugs for COVID-19 patients in order to prevent the disease from progressing further. And it can also help in the containment of the virus by limiting person-to-person transmission.
With this, the scientists are planning to do further research focusing on Ivermectin and carry out human trials. They also wish to further study the effectiveness of the anti-parasitic drug on killing coronavirus. This aims to know more about the characteristics of the drug and its possible interaction when injected in a human cell since the cells used in the initial tests were only made in laboratories for it was an invitro trial.
Experts warn against misuse of Ivermectin
Regardless, the researchers noted that the drug is already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as an anti-parasitic drug.
However, despite its promise and possibility to help in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, public health experts have warned the public against self-medicating and using the drug in preventing COVID-19 before trials have officially been done.
According to ABC News, Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos has already stressed and warned the public against misusing the drug and rushing to pharmacies to buy lice treatments and use them in ways that could be fatal.
As of the moment, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have strongly advised that people should maintain and abide by social distancing guidelines in order to prevent the spread of the virus and avoid contracting it.
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