A clinical study conducted by the Institute of Clinical Research (ICR) shows that the anti-viral drug Ivermectin does not prevent severe cases of Covid-19, says the Health Ministry.
In a statement on Wednesday (Nov 4), Health director-general Tan Sri Noor Hisham Abdullah said the study (I-Tech) was conducted on 500 patients hospitalised for Covid-19 in Stage 2 or 3.
"The I-Tech study was to see if Ivermectin administered during the first week of illness prevented deterioration to severe Covid-19 stage 4 or 5 among hospitalised patients aged 50 years and above with at least one comorbidity.
"They were randomly assigned to two groups – namely those who had five-day Ivermectin treatment (0.4mg/kg/day) with standard care and those who had only standard care.
"The study revealed that those who had Ivermectin experienced three times more adverse events and the most common adverse effect was diarrhoea," he said.
Dr Noor Hisham added that the data showed no difference in the rate of progression to the severe stages.
According to the Principal Investigator of the I-Tech study, Dr Steven Lim Chee Loon, Infectious Disease Specialist at Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun, Ipoh, there were no significant differences found in terms of ICU admission, mechanical ventilation, symptom recovery, blood parameters and chest x-ray resolution for those who were administered Ivermectin.
"Based on the outcomes of the I-Tech study, Ivermectin cannot be recommended for inclusion in current Covid-19 treatment guidelines as Ivermectin does not reduce risk of severe illness from Covid-19. The MOH continues with prior advice that Ivermectin only be used within clinical trials settings with monitoring.
"Until further supportive evidence becomes available, practitioners are cautioned not to recommend Ivermectin, including sharing illegal advertising or sale of Ivermectin for treatment of Covid-19," said Dr Noor Hisham.