What is common between malaria, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV, damaged lung tissues and diarrhoea? Medicines to treat all of these ailments have been touted as formulations that could be repurposed as potential treatment to treat coronavirus. These include medicines like hydroxychloroquine, remdesivir, lopinavir, pirfenidone, zinc acetate and others. Joining this list now is an anti-parasite drug, ivermectin.
Ivermectin is generally used for de-worming and as treatment against head lice and scabies. Media reports claim that it was used along with doxycycline, an antibiotic, to cure some coronavirus patients in Bangladesh. A medical team out of the country, led by a senior doctor, has claimed that their research on this drug combination showed some fruitful results in curing patients with the coronavirus symptoms. This combination has reportedly been tried earlier too, and even in India. But it is dangerous to conclude that this is the treatment against coronavirus, just like in the case of hydroxychloroquine sulphate (HCQ).
There were reports that anti-rheumatoid arthritis drug hydroxychloroquine sulphate was administered to some policemen in Mumbai and there was no mortality among them. Even those who ended up contracting the virus had a very mild form of it. But is this a proven cure? Not yet, say doctors.
So far, there is no scientific basis or any double-blind study - where neither patients nor experiment in-charge knows who is receiving the actual treatment - done on large group of patients to ascertain the efficacy and safety of these drugs. Formulations being touted as cure for coronavirus are mostly anecdotal cases or some unproven treatment on a large group of patients.
Most of the drugs that are being studied for re-purposing to cope with COVID-19 have been used for years to cure specific ailments. Scientists and physicians are trying to understand the application of these in relation to human body's reaction to coronavirus. Certain studies show that sometimes human body's response could get quite virulent, and therefore dangerous.
Therefore, at this stage, it is dangerous to rush to medical stores to look for these medicines or to consume them because, it is still early days and their efficacy and safety in treating coronavirus is yet to be proven.