6 April 2020
An anti-parasitic drug widely used to treat head lice and scabies has been shown to kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus in cell culture.
Australian scientists have shown that the drug ivermectin can kill the virus that causes COVID-19 in 48 hours in the lab.
The scientists from the Peter Doherty Institute and Monash University found a single treatment with ivermectin was able to control replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus within 24 to 48 hours.
“We found that even a single dose could essentially remove all viral RNA (genetic material of the virus) by 48 hours and that even at 24 hours there was a really significant reduction in it,” said Dr Kylie Wagstaff, who led the study.
Ivermectin has been used for many years and is considered a safe drug. It has previously been shown to be effective against other viruses in a laboratory setting, e.g. influenza, dengue, Zika and HIV.
The researchers caution that these tests were carried out in cell cultures and that trials need to be carried out in people to ascertain if the drug can be used safely and effectively.
“Ivermectin is very widely used and seen as a safe drug. We need to figure out whether the dosage you can use it at in humans will be effective – that’s the next step,” Dr Wagstaff said.