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Ivermectin fights 21 viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the cause of Covid-19. A single dose reduced the viral load of SARS-CoV-2 in cells by 99.8% in 24 hours and 99.98% in 48 hours, according to a June 2020 study published in the journal Antiviral Research.
Some 70 clinical trials are evaluating the use of ivermectin for treating Covid-19. The statistically significant evidence suggests that it is safe and works for both treating and preventing the disease.
Moreover, the drug can help prevent Covid-19. One 2020 article in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications looked at what happened after the drug was given to family members of confirmed Covid-19 patients. Less than 8% became infected, versus 58.4% of those untreated.
The drug, which was discovered in 1975 and commercialized in the early 1980s, came into the Covid-19 picture after Australian researchers in 2020 reported it could inhibit in vitro coronavirus replication in large doses. Commonly used to treat parasites in animals and head lice in humans, the drug has now been permitted as a treatment for Covid-19 patients in several of the worst-hit countries, including Slovakia, the Czech Republic and swathes of Latin American countries.
The pro-ivermectin campaign has taken a particularly stronghold in South Africa, where coronavirus infection rates are among the worst in the continent and the vaccination program has yet to cover all of the country's most vulnerable. Some doctors have been prescribing the worm drug to Covid-19 patients, claiming anecdotally that it alleviates virus symptoms.