“The study findings do not support the use of ivermectin for patients with COVID-19,” researchers said in the study published last week in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The trial took place at 20 public hospitals and a COVID-19 quarantine center in Malaysia between May 31 and Oct. 25.
Among 241 patients who received ivermectin, 52 developed severe COVID-19, compared to 43 of 249 patients who did not take the drug.
The people studied, who were on average 62 years old and were 55% women, were randomly assigned to receive either a 5-day course of ivermectin plus standard care or standard care alone.
No Difference by Vaccine Status
The researchers also looked at smaller groups of people in the study to see if there were differences in whether they were vaccinated. They said that analysis was “unremarkable.”
Just more than half of participants (51.8%) were fully vaccinated with two doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Among the vaccinated patients, 17.7% in the ivermectin group and 9.2% in the control group developed severe disease.
Ivermectin and COVID
While the FDA has not approved ivermectin to treat COVID-19, doctors continue to prescribe the inexpensive and widely available antiparasitic drug anyway. There is little evidence the drug is effective in treating COVID-19, but it has been embraced by anti-vaccine advocates as a useable alternative.
The authors of the new study acknowledge the controversy: “Although some early clinical studies suggested the potential efficacy of ivermectin in the treatment and prevention of COVID-19, these studies had methodologic weaknesses.”