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Could head lice drug stop the coronavirus in its tracks?

How Are COVID-19 Researchers Testing Drugs

There is much talk about medicines that could help against the dreaded Coronavirus disease (Covid-19). As all healthcare systems in the world are trying to fight back this new and virulent disease the medical community needs to explore all possible cures. An interesting discover have been reported by Kylie Wagstaff, researcher at Monash of Biomedicine Discovery Institute of Melbourne, Australia. The research appeared on “Antiviral Research” the 3rd april 2020 and shows that Ivermectin, a FDA approved drug with anti parasitic spectrum of action, inhibits the replication of SARS-CoV-2 in vitro.


Dr. Wagstaff said that “we found that even a single dose could essentially remove all viral RNA (effectively removed all genetic material of the virus) by 48 hours and that even at 24 hours there was a really significant reduction in it”. For now scientists can only speculate about mechanisms of action that enables Ivermectin to be effective against the Covid 19 viral agent. It’s still too early to determine if Ivermectin it’s safe and effective for the treatment of Covid-19 infection. But results are promising and several research groups have started human trials in Australia, Uk and USA. It is needless to say that in the absence of a specific drug or treatment protocol to cure patients affected by Covid-19 it’s essential to investigate all the possibilities offered by already existing drugs.

How it works

Ivermectin is a chemical derivative of avermectin, a family of anthelmintic whose discovery was recognized with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine awarded to scientists who discovered it. Ivermectin have neurotoxic characteristics and its really effective in killing invertebrates such as nematodes and scabies mites. Avermectines are used as active substances in many pesticides and Ivermectin is commonly used by veterinarians for treatment of parasitic worms infestations in livestock and pets.

What it treats

Ivermectin have shown to be an effective drug against many diseases: enterobiasis, an intestinal disease caused by pinworm, rosacea, probably caused by a mite and many tropical helminthiasis like river blindness, trichuriasis and diseases caused by filarial worms like elephantiasis, Loa loa filariasis and more. Furthermore many studies have proved that Ivermectin have also an anti-viral activity against many pathogens. Before the lab tests connducted by the australian researchers, Ivermectin has been tested successfully with HIV, DENV (dengue virus), Influenza virus, VEEV (Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus), CHIKV (chikungunya virus) and yellow fever virus among others.

Anti-viral properties

The anti-viral activity of Ivermectin for now has been proved only “In-vitro” and must be confirmed in human patients before to implement new treatment protocols. For this purpose researchers must focus on understanding the efficient dosages and how much active substance can be tolerated by human body before the emergence of toxicity. In the light of these evidences it’s certainly worth to going on with research as Ivermectin shows the potentiality to become a treatment drug to fight Covid-19.

Australian market

In Australian market Ivermectin is available under the brand names Stromectol and Soolantra. Generic Stromectol in Australia is indicated for the treatment of scabies and nematodes intestinal diseases. Soolantra cream is indicated for topic treatment of rosacea. Both medicines must be prescribed by an authorized healthcare professional in Australia. Stromectol is packaged in 3-mg tablets and the dosage depends on body weight and pathology of the patient. It’s recommended to take the tablets with water on an empty stomach. Common adverse effects of stromectol are fever, pruritus, nausea and skin rash. More often reactions could be noted after some days after the treatment of parasitic infections.


Soolantra cream is supplied in 35g, 45g and 60g tubes containing a cream with a 1% concentration of ivermectin (10mg per gram of product). It’s used for topic treatment of rosacea and it must be applied in the affected areas of the face once a day. Adverse effects are very rare and consists quite exclusively of skin irritations.¬†Due to increased attention by public opinion there are concerns on the market availability of Ivermectin based drugs in the near future. Actually there are few manufacturers of these medical products and if its effectiveness were to be proven demand probably the global demand could affect badly the supply capacity of the producers.

Healthcare ramifications

Coronavirus disease is threatening healthcare and economy of all nations in the world. The importance of developing effective treatments is crucial before a vaccine could be produced, supplied and administered to the global population. The interesting findings on Ivermectin made in Australia together with the studies conducted abroad on other medicines raises hope for a quick medical breakthrough capable to put an end at the Covid-19 pandemic.

Peter Williams

General Practitioner. I worked in hospitals in Melbourne and Sydney.

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  1. George Thomson

    Sounds like Ivermectin has some seriously potential in preventing the spread of Covid-19 and helping in creating a vaccine. I know many people throughout the world are trying to create a vaccine, especially before next Winter when the next round of Covid-19 cases could be worse. I for one would have never thought a treatment for head lice would be a possible treatment for Covid-19 so I applaud the team made up from the two Institutes for coming up with a promising idea.

  2. James Morris

    I believe ivermectin is a possible choice for killing the covid-19 virus. The researchers should study more on what type of virus this is and how they can change the make-up of ivermectin to possibly treat and get rid of covid-19 safely in humans via the many ways of getting the drug into our system.

  3. Justin Murray

    As a dog breeder for 30 years I used Ivermectin for years on my dogs for demodectic mange and tick infestations, I found that it worked very good
    In lower doses my only concern was what the vets used to say that it could have liver damage.
    But for Covid-19 not sure how the action mechanism will work

  4. Jacob Whelan

    It was early discovered that the popularly known head lice drug Ivermectin can possibly treat COVID-19, though researchers are yet to authenticate (test) it signicance on people with COVID-19. Recently, a research from monash university’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) and the Peter Doherty Institute of Infection and Immunity disclose that ivermectin can form a basis of a Covid-19 vaccine although yet to human proof their facts.

  5. Aiden Madden

    Monash University has recently published an article which shows great promise for Ivermectin. The anti-lice drug has been showing promise towards eradicating the genetic material of the COVID19. However, these tests have only been conducted within the lab. Human trials are still in the pipeline.

  6. Archer Bergen

    There’s still a lot we don’t know about how effective a treatment of Ivermectin really is for COVID-19 in humans, what we do know for certain is that animal formulations of Ivermectin are not recommended for human use. The FDA requires labels on animal Ivermectin products warning people not to ingest it. Specifically, these have not been proven safe for use by people through clinical drug trials. Do not self-medicate with animal Ivermectin products, even if some studies so far have found it effective. How certain drugs effect the virus in Petri dishes can differ how they react in the human body, too completely different environments, so we should wait before we see this as a new hope.

  7. Joshua Hill

    The study of this drug has been very positivty and hopeful. Overall this drug could stop the cell growth in its place and makes it seem like the virus itself wont come bac k

  8. Cody Harvey

    “New up and coming drug Ivermectin may be a possible cure for COVID-19,” states Monash University where the drug is currently in an experimental study.

  9. Hayden Irwin

    Researchers have found some preliminary results that the horse anti-lice drug Ivermectin has stunted COVID-19 growth in culture. These results are very preliminary and are not peer reviewed, nor do they go into how the drug interacts with the virus in Vivo. While this opens up a new avenue for potential research about the novel coronavirus strain, this does not mean Ivermectin is recommended as a cure or even that it has any beneficial effects in humans. The best course of action right now is to wait until scientists have developed a vaccine against the novel coronavirus.

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