Ivermectin is a horse dewormer and anti-parasitic medication that has been promoted across the world for the treatment of Covid-19. It has been in the news a lot recently because a large portion of the evidence base for the drug appears to have been based on fraudulent research, which, as scientific rigor goes, is usually considered to be a bit of an issue.
But we’ve held out hope that the drug works for Covid-19 because, despite the foundations of the research being cracked, there were still a number of positive trials, and some of them were really well done. Yes, fraud is bad, but we can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater just because one study may never have happened at all.
Until today. The results from a very large new study were just released, showing absolutely no benefit for ivermectin when compared with a placebo pill. It now seems depressingly likely that ivermectin is probably not useful for treating Covid-19.
The new study in question is called the Together Clinical Trials, and it’s a truly amazing collaboration between a number of universities and research groups to study the effects of repurposed drugs on people with Covid-19 who attend hospitals as outpatients.
Basically, they look at people who are at moderate risk but are experiencing relatively mild disease, randomize them to either get one of several drugs or a placebo, and then see if those drugs have any benefit in treating Covid-19. The full protocol is a masterpiece of science—well worth reading if you’re interested in trial design.
This trial has already demonstrated that hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir are unlikely to be beneficial treatments for people with Covid-19 in outpatient settings and, because of the hype around ivermectin, had included the drug in a treatment arm to see if it worked. The results from that part of the trial, including over 1,300 patients, were released in summary form late this afternoon.
They showed no benefit for ivermectin in the treatment of Covid-19. None whatsoever.