The University of Oxford on Wednesday said it was testing anti-parasitic drug ivermectin as a possible treatment for COVID-19, as part of a British government-backed study that aims to aid recoveries in non-hospital settings.
Ivermectin resulted in a reduction of virus replication in laboratory studies, the university said. It added a small pilot showed giving the drug early may reduce viral overload and the duration of symptoms in some patients who have mild COVID-19.
The British study, dubbed PRINCIPLE, in January found that antibiotics azithromycin and doxycycline were generally ineffective against early stage COVID-19.
The World Health Organisation, and the European and US regulators have recommended against the use of ivermectin in COVID-19 patients. However, it is being used to treat the illness in some countries, including India.
"By including ivermectin in a large-scale trial like Principle, we hope to generate robust evidence to determine how effective the treatment is against Covid-19, and whether there are benefits or harms associated with its use.", said Chris Butler, co-lead investigator of the study.
Those excluded from the trial are people with severe liver conditions, who are on blood-thinning medication warfarin, or are taking other treatments known to interact with ivermectin, the university mentioned.
Ivermectin is the seventh treatment to be investigated in the trial, and is currently being evaluated along with antiviral drug favipiravir, the university said.
(Edited by Rupashree Ravi)
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