By Stephen Londe, MD FACS, FACC / Original to ScheerPost
In August, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel recommended against the use of the generic drug ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19, except for clinical trials. Now, after numerous recent trials worldwide have demonstrated the drug’s efficacy against the virus, a group of determined doctors is working tirelessly to urge the NIH to allow use of the drug in the United States. This effort is based on the published data and experience of the medical community in several countries after a great deal of trial information emerged in the past four months showing the effectiveness of ivermectin in improving COVID-19 patient outcomes.
The Front Line Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), a group of highly published pulmonary and critical care physicians and researchers from major academic medical centers was organized in March by Dr. Paul Marik, professor and chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School, to identify the best COVID-19 treatment results from the expanding world literature. It was not a haphazard or accidental attempt to fight COVID-19, but a determined, nine-month organized effort to scour the worldwide medical experience and glean the best and most effective treatments for this pandemic, which has killed and sickened millions of people.
Their first recommendation — now a widely accepted treatment that has salvaged the lives of critically ill COVID patients — involves the use of large doses of corticosteroids to combat the virus and the destructive lung-destroying cytokine storm in COVID-19 patients. The FLCCC is now recommending the use of ivermectin, an FDA approved anti-parasitic drug, used by the World Health Organization for more than three decades for the treatment of parasitic disease in humans, to fight COVID-19. It is a safe drug that has been used in more than three billion patient doses in major campaigns worldwide to eradicate river blindness and other parasitic diseases.
Encouraged by publications from Argentina, Egypt, Brazil, Iraq, Bangladesh, Iran, Peru, and the United States all showing positive results using ivermectin, physicians of the FLCCC have used the drug to treat active COVID-19 infection. The sheer number of positive studies (no negative ones) is compelling. So, too, was the Dec. 8 Senate committee testimony of Dr. Pierre Kory, pulmonary and critical care specialist, stressing the need for the NIH to act swiftly in studying the data and approving emergency use of the drug for COVID-19.
Ivermectin is also highly effective in preventing the spread of this disease, based on clinical evidence and randomized trial data from around the world being posted by medical professionals on computer servers. These servers are public and have served to alert physicians and researchers to the efficacy of ivermectin. The World Health Organization reportedly has been studying this data and is expected to make a recommendation on ivermectin soon.
In Brazil, several major cities such as Natal undertook a public campaign to administer ivermectin to reduce community spread, which resulted in a dramatic decline in transmission according to their public health records. Mass use of ivermectin reduced the transmission of COVID-19 by as much as 80 percent, a statistically significant lower rate of infection than nearby cities that did not use the drug.
In Egypt, physicians of Benha University randomly gave ivermectin to families of newly diagnosed COVID-19 patients with almost total reduction of transmission, statistically different from the control families that did not get the drug. In a study reported to FLCCC Dec. 7 by the lead ivermectin investigator in Argentina, 800 healthcare workers given ivermectin did not contract COVID-19, while 58 percent of 400 healthcare workers who did not receive ivermectin became ill with the disease.
Similar positive results with ivermectin prophylaxis and treatment of actively infected patients have been reported in other countries including Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Greece, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Belize and the United States.
As promising and hopeful as are the newly introduced vaccines, they cannot and will not affect the incidence or mortality of this COVID-19 pandemic for many months. We are looking at more than 100,000 additional deaths and hospitalizations that now overcome our hospital capacity.
Under ordinary circumstances, I would recommend the normal safe, cautious approach to new therapies, but with more than 3,000 deaths a day and almost 300,000 new cases a day, we cannot wait for the results of the 15 or more ongoing studies of ivermectin. Medical ethics requires us to accept new, repurposed lifesaving pharmaceutical therapy when evidence supports it, even if not peer reviewed or retested in the usual cautious manner. Medical ethics directs us to use all available resources consistent with safety in emergent situations in which we now find ourselves.
Colleagues, doctors, nurses et al: more than 346,000 deaths, one at a time, I cannot imagine your pain. Please hear my plea: look at the data on the FLCCC website and watch Dr. Kory’s testimony urging the NIH to join countries around the world that have approved ivermectin for COVID-19 treatment. Find frequently asked questions and answers on the FLCCC website, which is replete with information you want or need to know about ivermectin.
It is time to use this inexpensive, safe, and effective drug, ivermectin, for your sick patients, for health care providers, nursing homes, high density workplaces, and high incidence neighborhoods. This is not business as usual. WE CANNOT, SHOULD NOT, WAIT A DAY LONGER.