Ivermectin COVID

Photo: Interior Ministry of Peru

Ivermectin uncertainty: SA govt issues warning about ‘COVID treatment’

The use of Ivermectin has been both lauded and criticised by health sources in South Africa, painting a confusing picture about COVID-19 treatment.

Ivermectin COVID

Photo: Interior Ministry of Peru

South Africa’s top medical authorities are seemingly struggling to form a consensus on the use of Ivermectin. On Thursday, SAHPRA confirmed they would authorise the use of the COVID-19 treatment on ‘compassionate grounds’. However, the Health Department has since issued a firm warning about prescribing this drug.

Ivermectin: South Africans warned against ‘casual usage’

The Department of Health has advised again the use of Ivermectin vaccine for the management of COVID-19, until the study on its efficacy and safety is concluded. Studies vary widely in terms of disease severity of participants, medicines with which Ivermectin was compared to, and additional medicines that participants received.

This wouldn’t be the first time government officials and their colleagues at the Health Department have been accused of ‘mixed messaging’ during this pandemic. Experts working with Zweli Mkhize were blasted for saying vaccines ‘are not the ultimate solution’ for this disease – somewhat trampling on President Ramaphosa’s own stance.

Experts ‘back and forth’ on new COVID-19 treatment

In a statement issued on Thursday, Health Department spokesperson Popo Maja said that the National Essential Medicines List Committee (NEMLC) COVID-19 Sub-Committee has carefully considered all available evidence on the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 with Ivermectin, and he ‘discourages’ the use of Ivermectin outside of clinical trials.

“Currently, there is insufficient evidence to recommend Ivermectin for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19. Some studies have suggested that Ivermectin may be of benefit for the management of COVID-19, however, the evidence that is currently available is preliminary and of low quality.” 

“Several studies are currently underway exploring efficacy and safety of Ivermectin in the management of COVID-19. The outcomes of these studies will provide the department with more scientific data to make informed decisions on the usage of Ivermectin to manage the pandemic.”

“As new data becomes available, the sub-committee will continuously review and amend the recommendations accordingly. In the meantime, we discourage the use of Ivermectin outside of well-conducted randomised controlled trials.” 

Popo Maja