Misleading posts touting ivermectin as a Covid-19 treatment distort results of preliminary Australian study

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Several online posts have shared claims that a study conducted by Australian researchers conclusively demonstrated the antiparasitic drug ivermectin is an effective treatment for Covid-19. But this post is misleading: study findings are preliminary and research is still ongoing until June 29, 2021; Health experts warn there is no conclusive evidence showing ivermectin is effective against Covid-19.

“Ivermectin can kill COVID-19 within 48 hours, according to a Monash University study,” reads a screenshot shared on Instagram on June 22, 2021.

Screenshot of the misleading post taken on June 23, 2021

Ivermectin is a drug used to treat parasitic infections. It has been touted as a purported “miracle drug” to fight Covid-19 despite the lack of credible scientific evidence, AFP reports here.

Monash University is a research university based in Melbourne, Australia.

Identical posts touting ivermectin have also been shared here, here and here on Facebook.

Comments on this post suggest people are being misled and think the study conclusively shows ivermectin is an effective treatment for Covid-19.

“It is safe, available and has been in use for decades,” wrote one social media user.

“Imagine how many people could survive,” said another.

But this post is misleading.

‘in vitro’ studies

The findings of this study are preliminary evidence and not conclusive evidence of the effectiveness of ivermectin against Covid-19.

AFP found the study was published here in the medical journal Antiviral Research on April 3, 2020.

The study reads in part: “Ivermectin is an inhibitor of the virus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) in vitro… Therefore, Ivermectin requires further investigation for its possible benefits in humans.”

“In vitro” means research carried out outside the body of a living being and in an artificial environment.

The Monash University press release announcing the results of the study also states in part: “Although proven effective in a laboratory environment, Ivermectin cannot be used in humans for COVID-19 until further testing and clinical trials have been completed to establish the effectiveness of the drug. drug at a level that is safe for human dosing.

“The potential use of Ivermectin to combat COVID-19 remains unproven, and it is up to pre-clinical testing and clinical trials to advance the work.”

A Monash University spokesperson confirmed that research is ongoing.

“Researchers continue to work on ivermectin (and other approaches) in preclinical and clinical settings,” the spokesperson told AFP on June 29, 2021.

Not enough evidence

Credible health experts maintain there is no conclusive evidence showing ivermectin is effective against Covid-19.

The advice from the Australian Department of Health on 1 June 2021 states in part: “There is currently insufficient evidence to support the safe and effective use of ivermectin, doxycycline and zinc (either separately, or in combination) for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.

“More robust and well-designed clinical trials are needed before they can be considered an appropriate treatment option.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) had previously suggested here on March 31, 2021 that ivermectin should only be used to treat Covid-19 in clinical trials.

“The current evidence on the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 patients is inconclusive. Until more data are available, WHO recommends that the drug be used only in clinical trials,” the WHO said.

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