New Delhi: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the country’s apex medical research body, is reviewing the benefits of drugs ivermectin and doxycycline as potential therapy for Covid-19. The combination of these two drugs has been hailed by doctors in Bangladesh for yielding “astounding results”.
“We are closely studying the drug ivermectin and its possible efficacy against Covid-19. We have used antibiotic doxycycline for long and its mechanism of working is fairly clear. However, the former needs to be studied more closely,” Nivedita Gupta, senior scientist at ICMR, told ThePrint.
Ivermectin is a US Food and Drug Administration-approved anti-parasite drug used to treat some parasitic worms, while doxycycline is an antibiotic.
On 19 May, a team of doctors from Bangladesh claimed that their research on the combination of these two drugs “yielded astounding results” in curing patients with acute symptoms of Covid-19.
“Out of 60 COVID-19 patients, all recovered as the combination of the two drugs were applied”, Professor Dr Md Tarek Alam, the head of medicine department at the Bangladesh Medical College Hospital (BMCH) told news agency PTI.
Meanwhile, according to Gupta, ICMR has reviewed the drug multiple times.
“In in-vitro studies it has shown effectiveness but there are no studies on human beings. The data by Bangladesh looks promising but the sample size is small,” she said.
“We are continuously studying the evolution of the use of this drug in the treatment protocol of Covid-19 patients. However, we need solid evidence or a published study, backed by statistically significant data on a bigger sample size to conclude anything,” she added.
Bangladesh’s ‘wonder’ drug combination
The Bangladeshi doctors claimed that the efficacy of the ivermectin-doxycycline drug combination is quite high and it has helped in the recovery of patients afflicted with Covid-19 within four days. They also claimed that “there were no side effects” of this treatment.
“The repeated or second tests, in line with the procedure, reconfirmed them COVID-19 negative in all the cases under the research which found the combination to have no side effects on patients either,” Dr Alam was quoted as saying.
“We are hundred per cent hopeful about the effectiveness of the combination,” he added.
Ivermectin part of several studies in India
According to government portal Clinical Trials Registry India (CTRI), ivermectin is part of at least five ongoing trials in the country.
Max Hospital has registered a trial to study the effectiveness of ivermectin with ‘standard of care treatment versus standard of care treatment for Covid-19 cases’.
Another trial, registered by the Department of Medicine of Lady Hardinge Medical College in Delhi, will study the effects of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, ciclesonide, a drug used to treat asthma, and ivermectin in the treatment of moderate Covid-19 illness.
The trial is divided into four parts — three for each medicine and one for standard care. “A sample size of 30 in each arm is proposed to be included over a period of 6 months. Trial drugs would be withdrawn if they deteriorate to severe Covid-19 illness,” noted the details of the trial.