KUCHING: Ivermectin should be used only in clinical trials and not for self-treatment or as part of any standard treatment for Covid-19, said the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) Sarawak Branch.
Its chairman Dr Teh Siao Hean said that due to prevailing fears of Covid-19 vaccine misinformation and misinterpretation of limited medical evidence, an overly optimistic view of Ivermectin as a ‘magic cure’ has been widely circulated in various media.
“It is not advisable to use it to treat Covid-19 until enough evidence shows otherwise. There are ongoing clinical trials to obtain evidence for medical experts to decide on its effectiveness,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
He said that Ivermectin is originally used to treat worm and parasitic infections in animals by veterinarians and some parasites in humans.
“In humans, it is used to treat river blindness (onchocerciasis) and some worm infestations of the intestine (strongyloidiasis),” he said.
Dr Teh pointed out that any medicine or substance when used in high doses and for long periods can cause poisonous effects.
“For instance, paracetamol is a safe medicine, but prolonged use at inappropriately high doses will be toxic. This is the danger when any medicine is used without a prescription or proper medical instructions,” he said.
When asked on the possible reasons why some people consider using Ivermectin to treat Covid-19 or as a preventive strategy, he said that they might have found information on the internet regarding some studies that show in-vitro (outside the body) effects of Ivermectin preventing the SARS-COV-2 (Covid-19) virus from multiplying.
“However, this happens at doses which have not been tested in humans and it is premature to conclude from this (studies) that it will work on humans,” he said.
He added that there are also reports that Ivermectin was used in combination with other treatments for some patients who recovered.
“In such cases, it is difficult to determine what role Ivermectin played in the recovery compared to the other treatments.
“It is very tempting to many people to place their hope on a ‘magic cure’, but unfortunately to date, rigorous studies have yet to prove this,” he added.
In addition, Dr Teh discourages people from using Ivermectin as prevention or treatment for Covid-19 until further evidence or studies prove that it is effective and safe to use it for this purpose.
“At the moment, it is not proven to work and the same advice is similar for all unproven remedies.
“The best course right now is to get vaccinated, practice proper masking and social distancing as well as avoiding confined, crowded spaces with poor airflow.
“Vaccines have been proven to reduce severe symptoms and death. However, vaccination by itself is insufficient to stop the spread of the Covid-19. Therefore, everyone needs to adhere to other measures, particularly the standard operating procedures (SOPs),” he stressed.