Oxford University scientists are mulling a large-scale trial of a "cheap" drug that has shown signs of dramatically bringing down COVID-19 deaths in the developing world.
The principal trial is aimed at finding treatments that could be used soon after virus symptoms appear in a patient, in order to catch the disease early on thereby preventing serious illness.
The batch of medicines being identified for treating patients include ivermectin, a drug used to treat livestock and people infested with parasitic worms, according to a report by The Times.
While the medicine has been hailed by some as a "wonder drug" that has potential antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, others said have cast aspersions saying that it has not been properly evaluated.
"There's a gap in the data," Chris Butler, professor of primary care at the University of Oxford and a co-chief of the trial, told the publication, adding that "there's not been a really rigorous trial."
The drug works by obstructing the entry of a protein into a cell's nuclei, thereby curbing the replication capacity of the virus.
The preliminary analysis from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has shown encouraging signs, the report stated, adding that the medicine has been granted approval in the UK as a topical agent for inflammation and skin infections.