Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, Monday, welcomed the report of IVERCOVID Research Group, a team of home and overseas-based Nigerian professors and scientists investigating the efficacy of Ivermectin, a drug used in the treatment of river blindness, in the management of COVID-19 infection.
The report is titled, “A randomized controlled trial for the repurposing of Ivermectin in the management of COVID-19″
The team has also submitted their report on the usefulness of the drug to the World Health Organization which has appointed a peer review expert from the United Kingdom.
According to a statement by Laolu Akande, special adviser, media and publicity to the VP on Tuesday, Osinbajo was briefed on Monday on the report by the team led by Prof. Femi Babalola, the Principal investigator, and Prof. Chris Bode, the Chief Medical Director of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH.
Osinbajo reportedly expressed excitement that Nigerians were “at the cutting edge of scientific research into the COVID-19 treatment.”
“We have an opportunity here and I am so fascinated to hear this drug has been used in the treatment of River Blindness in this country.”
Osinbajo said that with the report, Nigeria is at an advantage both in knowledge and availability of the drug, since Ivermectin has been found useful in the treatment of COVID-19 and is also a prophylactic. A prophylactic is a medication or a treatment designed and used to prevent a disease from occurring.
Osinbajo promised that the Federal Government would explore further ways to support the research for the benefit of Nigerians and humanity. He also canvassed for the effective funding of scientific research in the Nigeria.
The full members of the team are: the Principal Investigator, Prof. Femi Babalola, an Ophthalmologist and surgeon; the Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Prof. Chris Bode; the Chairman of the Medical Advisory Council at LUTH, Prof. Lanre Adeyemo; a US-based Clinical Pharmacologist, Prof. Adesuyi Ajayi; two project virologists, namely Prof. S..A Omilabu and Dr. Olumuyiwa Salu; and the Project Coordinator, Dr. Felix Alakaloko. The research was carried out in LUTH, following the report of a 5,000-fold reduction in viral load by Australian workers with in-vitro use of Ivermectin on COVID-19 in culture.
The PI has worked extensively with Ivermectin on the Onchocerciasis – River Blindness control programme, through which many Nigerians have used Ivermectin. The study revealed that the mechanism of action of Ivermectin include “Inhibiting viral entry into cells nucleus; and Direct suppression of viral RNA load of SARS CoV 2,” among others.
Ivermectin was also found to have higher absorption as a solution than tablets, and “The Mean Residence Time” (MRT) is 3.4 days. This informs the suggested frequency of dosing, i.e. twice a week.
The research’s Null hypothesis noted that: “Safe doses of Ivermectin are not useful in the treatment of patients with virology proven COVD-19 disease, does not lower viral load, and does not shorten time to negativity, neither does it cause improvement in clinical parameters when compared to Lopinavir/Ritonavir/Placebo.”
Its Alternative Hypothesis revealed that, “Safe doses of Ivermectin are useful in the treatment of patients with virology proven COVID-19 disease, lowering viral load, shortening time to negativity, and causing improvement in clinical parameters when compared with Lopinavir/Ritonavir/Placebo.” The Study found that the randomisation was effective based on distribution of age, sex and some clinical presentation at baseline such as cough and fever.
The overall results showed that the “Days-To-Negative (DTN) reduced by 3.8 days overall. While a few patients are negative by day two, 50 per cent are negative by day 5.”
The study indicated that Clinical trials of Ivermectin have been carried out in at least 21 countries worldwide, including Nigeria. It referenced the “Meta-analysis of clinical trials of Ivermectin to treat COVID-19 infection” by Dr. Andrew Hill, Department of Pharmacology, University of Liverpool, UK.
The report proposed that “Ivermectin should be considered for adoption into the uniform treatment guidelines of COVID- 19 in Nigeria,” noting the “potential use of ivermectin as prophylaxis Pending the rollout of vaccination programs or alongside it.”
However, the study emphasized that Ivermectin “is not meant to replace other COVID-19 measures such as social distancing, face masking and hygiene, or vaccinations… It is possibly an additional tool which can be deployed to fight the pandemic.”
The group has also forwarded the report to NAFDAC, which has not done much with other such reports submitted to it.