[Written on: 05-Apr-2020]
As everyone should know by now, developing and taking a vaccine to the market for the Covid-19 Coronavirus would take at least 12 months. While this widely known timeframe seems like very long, as this pandemic is already taking tens of thousands of lives and taking the entire world’s economic and social life with it, this 12-month timeframe, if achieved, it would still be record breaking. In the vaccine developing world, 12 months is like lightening fast. Therefore, a bigger question for the immediate, is to identify a suitable therapeutic treatment for this Covid-19 coronavirus.
There’s two ways to come up with a medication. One is to develop a new medicine which is tailored and custom developed for this Covid-19; and the second is to retrofit, use existing medicines already on the market. The latter being a much preferred option. Because with existing approved drugs, the safety of the drugs have already been well tested and studied; with available data on hand already, regulatory approval will be significantly faster.
Currently, the most hyped and promising existing drugs for treating Covid-19 coronavirus is hydroxychloroquine, a long history drug more commonly known for treating malaria. Today let’s talk about a different candidate: Ivermectin.
What is Ivermectin?
Ivermectin is an FDA approved drug mainly for treating strongyloidiasis, a parasitic disease caused by roundworms; and also used to treat head lice, scabies, and others caused by roundworms and whipworms. It has a long history, came into medical use in 1981, which means it is a drug that’s well understood by the medical community. Based on a recent study led by Dr. Kylie Wagstaff from Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute in Australia, a single dose of Ivermectin can kill the Covid-19 coronavirus in two days, by removing all the viral RNA. Unfortunately though, this experiment was done in vitro, meaning that this test was carried out in a test tube. While promising, being effective in a test tube doesn’t translate directly to also being effective in human body.
The next step is then for the doctors to determine the correct amount of Ivermectin to be prescribed to patients, and run clinical trials on patients to determine the drug’s efficacy in human body. In addition, while the drug is safe for its typical use, its side effect probably also needs another check when used on coronavirus patients.
The team has pointed out they would probably need another month or so for this drug to enter clinical trial phase; while not as fast as the hydroxychloroquine, at least it’s another option that we hope could turn out to be very helpful in a month.
We hope they can beat their timeline.