A new study from Brazil has confirmed that ivermectin – the drug hoarded from pharmacies after vaccination sceptics made unfounded claims of its effects – does nothing to help against Covid-19.
The study, published in the renowned New England Journal of Medicine, concludes that this drug does not reduce the risk of hospitalisation after a coronavirus infection compared to a placebo.
Ivermectin, which can be used against certain threadworms and scabies mites in humans, had previously gained a notable popularity, especially among vaccination opponents, who saw the drug as a miracle cure.
In some countries, pharmacy shelves were even emptied of the drug amid claims of its effects in combatting Covid-19. The hype was fuelled by dubious websites that referred to supposedly promising results, especially from smaller studies – the quality and general validity of which, according to experts, was in part questionable.
In the double-blind study that has now been published, neither doctors nor the patients assigned by lot knew who had received the drug and who had received a placebo.
The 3,500 participants had an increased risk of severe Covid due to their age or previous illnesses. 679 of them received ivermectin, the same number received a placebo, and the remaining 2,160 patients were treated differently.
In the study, ivermectin was found to be clinically ineffective – in terms of risk of hospitalisation, length of hospital stay and recovery after infection.
“This should put this topic to bed,” infection immunologist Leif Erik Sander from the Berlin Charité hospital said on Twitter in response to the study.
In the past, meta-analyses that combined individual studies and laboratory experiments did not come to a clear conclusion about an claimed benefit of ivermectin.
To date, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have spoken out against the use of the drug in the pandemic. If used in the wrong dosage, the drug can be highly toxic.
In Austria, the manufacturer MSD (Merck Sharp & Dohme) even advised against taking the drug without medical advice, noting there was “no meaningful evidence” for the use of ivermectin against Sars-CoV-2.