KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 — A new study by the Institute for Clinical Research (ICR) found that ivermectin was not more likely to prevent severe disease among patients with mild to moderate Covid-19 than conventional treatment.
The I-TECH study by ICR, under the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) National Institutes of Health (NIH) — which evaluated 500 hospitalised patients in Stage Two or Three Covid-19 aged 50 years and older with at least one comorbidity — showed that patients who received ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug, and those who received standard of care had similar rates of progression to severe disease at 21.2 per cent and 17.3 per cent respectively.
The average time of progression to Stage Four or Five Covid-19 disease was 3.0 days for the ivermectin arm and 2.9 days for the standard-of-care group, a statistically insignificant result.
Complete recovery from symptoms by day five of enrolment in the study was also similar between the ivermectin and standard-of-care arms.
In terms of preventing death, the I-TECH study found mortality was lower within 28 days in patients who received ivermectin together with standard of care, but this was statistically insignificant.
This is due to the small number of deaths at 13 of 490 study participants (10 of the 500 subjects enrolled either withdrew or were excluded).
No significant differences were found between the ivermectin and standard-of-care groups in terms of intensive care unit (ICU) admission or mechanical ventilation either.
The ivermectin arm, however, did report three times more adverse events, or side effects, versus the standard-of-care arm, mostly diarrhoea.
“Based on the outcomes of the I-TECH study, ivermectin cannot be recommended for inclusion in current Covid-19 treatment guidelines as ivermectin does not reduce risk of severe illness from Covid-19,” Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement today.
“Until further supportive evidence becomes available, practitioners are cautioned not to recommend ivermectin including sharing illegal advertising or sale of ivermectin for treatment of Covid-19.”
ICR’s main objective in the I-TECH study — which was conducted between May 31 and October 25 — was to see if ivermectin administered during the first week of illness prevented deterioration to severe Covid-19 in Stage Four or Five.
ICR director Dr Kalaiarasu M. Peariasamy told CodeBlue that slightly over half of study participants — across both the ivermectin and standard-of-care arms — were fully vaccinated.