WHO recommends that ivermectin not be used against covid-19 | News and analysis on the most relevant facts in Brazil | DW

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended on Wednesday (31/03) that ivermectin, a dewormer, should not be used in the treatment of patients with covid-19, regardless of the level of severity or the duration of symptoms.

According to the WHO, in relation to the coronavirus, ivermectin should only be used in the context of clinical tests. According to the organization, there is little evidence that the drug has a beneficial effect in terms of decreased mortality, mechanical ventilation, hospital stay, length of hospital stay and viral load.

Experts say that the fact that a drug is cheap and widely available does not justify its use if its benefit remains unclear.

Even without scientific evidence to support its use against covid-19, ivermectin, as well as hydroxychloroquine – another ineffective drug against coronavirus – has become one of the favorite drugs of the Jair Bolsonaro government. The president regularly encourages the use of the dewormer as part of an “early treatment” against covid-19 and the medicine has been included in the so-called “covid kit” distributed by the government and prescribed by some doctors across the country.

The only drugs that the WHO endorsed for hospitalized patients with severe symptoms of covid-19 are corticosteroids, in particular dexamethasone, a product that is also inexpensive.

The group that analyzed the effectiveness of the drug is formed by specialists in medical care from various areas. They reviewed the results compiled from 16 clinical trials, with more than 2,400 inpatients and outpatients.

A week ago, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) also advised against the use of ivermectin for the prevention and treatment of covid-19, warning that “the available data do not support” its widespread use outside controlled clinical trials.

Manufacturer does not recommend the use

In February, the American pharmaceutical company Merck, the company that developed ivermectin in the 1980s and is still its main manufacturer, said that there is no evidence on the effectiveness of the drug against covid-19.

For the company, the drug should only be used for its original function: as a dewormer used to promote the elimination of various parasites from the body, and not as a treatment against the coronavirus.

The encouragement of Bolsonaro and other politicians led to an explosion in Brazil of consumption of ivermectin and other drugs that were not effective against covid-19. A survey by the Federal Pharmacy Council (CFF) showed in January that sales of hydroxychloroquine doubled from 963,596 units in 2019 to 2.02 million in 2020. Sales of ivermectin grew 557%.

Recently, the Brazilian Medical Association (AMB) asked to ban the use of ivermectin and other drugs with no proven efficacy against covid-19, in a position contrary to the one advocated by Bolsonaro.

“We reaffirm that, unfortunately, medications such as hydroxychloroquine / chloroquine, ivermectin, nitazoxanide, azithromycin and colchicine, among other drugs, have no proven scientific efficacy in the treatment or prevention of covid-19, whether in prevention, in the initial phase or in advanced stages of this disease, and therefore, the use of these drugs should be banned “, defended the AMB in a statement.

The popularity of ivermectin against covid-19 comes mainly from an Australian study published in early 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, which observed efficacy in vitro, that is, in the laboratory, of ivermectin in Sars-CoV-2, a virus cause of covid-19.

le (efe, afp, lusa)

  • Verbal virus: Bolsonaro’s phrases about the pandemic


    On March 9, at an event during a visit to the United States, Bolsonaro said that the “destructive power” of the coronavirus was being “oversized”. Until then, the epidemic had killed more than 3,000 people worldwide. After returning to Brazil, more than 20 members of his entourage tested positive for covid-19.

  • Fabio Wajngarten and Jair Bolsonaro

    Verbal virus: Bolsonaro’s phrases about the pandemic

    “Europe is going to be hit harder than we are”

    The statement was made on March 15. Precisely, he said: “Europe’s population is older than ours. So more people are going to be affected by the virus than we are.” According to the WHO, risk groups, such as the elderly, have the same chance of contracting the disease as young people. The difference is in the severity of the symptoms. Today, Brazil is the second country hardest hit by the pandemic.

  • Bolsonaro

    Verbal virus: Bolsonaro’s phrases about the pandemic

    “Gripezinha” and “athlete’s history”

    At least twice, Bolsonaro referred to the covid-19 as “gripezinha”. In the first, on March 24, in a statement on national television, he stated that, because he had “an athlete’s history”, he would “feel nothing” if he contracted the new coronavirus or would have at most a “cold or cold”. Days later, he said: “For 90% of the population, it is cold or nothing.”

  • Jair Bolsonaro

    Verbal virus: Bolsonaro’s phrases about the pandemic

    “We are all going to die someday”

    After visiting commerce in Brasilia, contrary to recommendations given by his own Ministry of Health and WHO, Bolsonaro said, on March 29, that it was necessary to face the virus “as a man”. “Employment is essential, this is the reality. We will face the virus with reality. It is life. We will all die someday.”

  • Brasilien Corona-Pandemie (picture-alliance/NurPhoto/F. Taxeira)

    Verbal virus: Bolsonaro’s phrases about the pandemic

    “Hydroxychloroquine is working”

    Bolsonaro has repeatedly defended chloroquine for the treatment of covid-19. On March 26, when he said that the malaria drug “is working,” there was no longer any scientific basis to defend the substance. In June, the WHO stopped testing with hydroxychloroquine, after evidence shows that the drug does not reduce mortality in patients hospitalized with the disease.

  • Brazil Coronavirus Bolsonaro visits field hospital in Aguas Lindas (Reuters / A. Machado)

    Verbal virus: Bolsonaro’s phrases about the pandemic

    “Viruses are leaving”

    On April 10, Brazil surpassed the milestone of 1,000 deaths from coronavirus. In the world, there were already 100 thousand deaths. Two days later, Bolsonaro said that “it seems that this issue of the virus is beginning to go away”. Months later, Brazil would become a global epicenter of the pandemic, with tens of thousands of deaths.

  • Brazil Coronavirus President Bolsonaro mouthguard (picture-alliance / AP Images / A. Borges)

    Verbal virus: Bolsonaro’s phrases about the pandemic

    “I am not an undertaker”

    So the president reacted, in front of the Planalto, when a journalist asked a question about the numbers of the covid-19 in Brazil, which already registered more than 2 thousand deaths and 40 thousand cases. “Hey, hello, hello, man. Who talks about … I’m not an undertaker, okay? ”, Said Bolsonaro on April 20.

  • Brazil Brasilia | Jair Bolsonaro speaks to the press (Getty Images / A. Anholete)

    Verbal virus: Bolsonaro’s phrases about the pandemic


    It was one of the president’s statements that most caused outrage. With more than 5,000 deaths, Brazil had just passed China in number of deaths. It was April 28, and the president was being asked again about the numbers of the virus. “And? Am sorry. What do you want me to do? I am Messiah, but I do not perform miracles … ”

  • Brasilien | Jair Bolsonaro (Reuters / A. Machado)

    Verbal virus: Bolsonaro’s phrases about the pandemic

    “I’m going to have a barbecue”

    On May 7, Brazil already had more than 140 thousand infected and 9 thousand deaths. Metropolises like Rio and São Paulo were in quarantine. The president then announced that he would have a little party. “I’m committing a crime. I’m going to have a barbecue on Saturday at home. Let’s have a chat, maybe a little peladinha …”. Days later, he went back, saying that the news was “fake”.

  • Brasilien Jair Bolsonaro (Reuters / A. Machado)

    Verbal virus: Bolsonaro’s phrases about the pandemic

    “What are you afraid of? Face it!”

    In July, the president announced that he was with covid-19. He said he was “cured” 19 days later. Out of isolation, he started to travel. Throughout the pandemic, he had already visited commerce and participated in pro-government acts. In Bagé (RS), on July 31, he suggested that the spread of the virus is inevitable. “Unfortunately, I think almost all of you will catch it one day. What are you afraid of? Face it!”

  • Bolsonaro to the microphone

    Verbal virus: Bolsonaro’s phrases about the pandemic

    “Country of fags”

    On November 10, when he celebrated as a political victory the suspension of studies by the Butantan Institute of the vaccine from the Chinese laboratory Sinovac after the death of a vaccine volunteer, Bolsonaro said that Brazil should “stop being a sissy country” for cause of the pandemic. “One more that Bolsonaro wins,” he commented.

  • President Jair Bolsonaro

    Verbal virus: Bolsonaro’s phrases about the pandemic

    “No more freshness, mimimi”

    On March 4, 2021, after the country registered a new record in the daily count of daily deaths by covid-19, Bolsonaro said it was necessary to stop “freshness” and “mimimi” in the midst of the pandemic, and asked how long people “they will be crying”. He even called “idiots” the people who have been asking the government to be more agile in purchasing vaccines.

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