Deworming drug a supporting medicine for Covid-19 patients, say doctors

Covid-19 patients in home isolation and their contacts can use the deworming agent, Ivermectin, as a ‘supporting medicine’, doctors here said.

“It is not a treatment for Covid-19, but yes, as a supporting medicine, its role has been identified to boost immunity. It can be taken under a doctor’s guidance for a proper dose,” said Dr PK Gupta, former president of the Indian Medical Association, Lucknow.

Doctors said the medicine was found effective against the virus in a lab in-vitro study (study on a microorganism outside its normal biological context).

“In Australia, researchers claimed the viral load went down 5,000 times in 48 hours with this medicine taken in combination. Also a Bangladesh scientist claimed a similar effect. At present, research on this medicine is going on at 28 places,” said Dr Kauser Usman, senior faculty at King George’s Medical University (KGMU).

Doctors said people who tested positive for Covid-19 and were in home isolation and their contacts may take the medicine. “But children and pregnant women should avoid taking it,” Lucknow’s chief medical officer Dr RP Singh said in a press statement on Thursday.

Dr Sandeep Kapoor, director, Healthcity Hospital, said, “It would be better if anyone consuming this medicine takes doctor’s advice first.”

“Ivermectin is a medication that has been used to treat worms for years. There are no known side-effects. But its consumption should not be taken as a complete safety against infection as research is still going on,” said Dr Abhishek Shukla, secretary general, Association of International Doctors.

Residents are finding it difficult to purchase the medicine from chemists, but traders say the situation is temporary. In the next two or three days, at least 1,000 chemist shops in Lucknow will have this medicine, they added.

“Sale of Ivermectin has been limited (previously) as it is required for deworming by people once in six months or even more. Hence, not all chemists keep it. But with its role in Covid-19, we have placed orders and at last 400 chemists shops have this medicine,” said Giriraj Rastogi, president of the medicine traders association.

He said at least 2,000 chemists in Lucknow will have the medicine by Monday and even more would stock it later next week. Lucknow has about 4,000 retail medicine shops.

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