What you need to know; Ivermectin vs. COVID-19

Can ivermectin cure Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19)? Can it otherwise reduce the disease severity? Those are the questions which most are probably asking themselves currently after following Botswana parliament debates since yesterday.

In his response to President Masisi’s national address yesterday, the Leader of Opposition- Honourable Dumelang Saleshando mentioned the use of ivermectin as a possible solution to COVID-19, he said this mentioning that there are some countries which are using the medicine against COVID-19.

Today the Member of Parliament for Francistown South- Honourable Wynter Mmolotsi raised a similar issue in form of a question to the Minister of Health and Wellness. In his question, Mmolotsi wanted to know whether the minister (i) is aware that many countries are using Ivermectin for both cure and prevention for COVID-19; (ii) there is any consideration by the Ministry to use Ivermectin; (iii) the Minister is aware that some Batswana are already using Ivermectin and can attest to its effectiveness; (iv) the Minister has any negative research findings on Ivermectin use.

But what is ivermectin?
Ivermectin is a broad spectrum anti-parasitic agent, included in World Health Organization (WHO) essential medicines list for several parasitic diseases. It is used in the treatment of onchocerciasis (river blindness), strongyloidiasis and other diseases caused by soil transmitted helminthiasis. It is also used to treat scabies.

Here is what you need to know about ivermectin and how the experts think it works against COVID-19;

  • For the SARS-CoV-2 virus to make you sick, it has to first infect your cells. SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) is the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Then while inside the cell, the virus makes heaps of copies of itself, so it can spread around your body.
  • The virus also has ways of reducing the way your body fights the infection.
  • During the infection of the cell, some viral proteins go into the cell nucleus, and from here they can decrease the body’s ability to fight the virus, which means the infection can get worse.
  • To get into the nucleus the viral proteins need to bind a cargo transporter which lets them in.
  • Ivermectin can block the cargo transporter, so the viral proteins can’t get into the nucleus.
  • By taking Ivermectin, it means the body can fight the infection like normal, because its antiviral response hasn’t been reduced by the viral proteins.

However, some clinical studies showed no benefits or worsening of disease after ivermectin use, whereas others reported shorter time to resolution of disease manifestations that were attributed to COVID-19, greater reduction in inflammatory marker levels, shorter time to viral clearance, or lower mortality rates in patients who received ivermectin than in patients who received comparator drugs or placebo.

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