Pharmacies across the country are reporting a boom in sales of the medication, and it has been sold out on e-commerce sites such as Bukalapak and Shopee. “People have been flocking to buy it,” said a pharmacist at Penang Island Pharmacy in the city of Medan in North Sumatra, who did not want to be named.

The drug’s popularity comes after a number of high-profile Indonesian politicians championed its effectiveness in recent days – and as residents grow desperate, with the country’s hospitals overwhelmed and turning patients away amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Looking at the data we have available, we are quite optimistic that ivermectin can be an effective drug solution to cure Covid patients,” Moeldoko said, claiming it had been effectively used in 15 other countries to treat the virus.

Susi Pudjiastuti, the widely popular former maritime and fisheries minister, has also praised the drug. In a video uploaded on Twitter on Wednesday, Pudjiastuti said she had taken ivermectin with paracetamol and vitamins after a Covid-19 scare, during which she opted to self isolate as hospitals in Jakarta were full.

Besides Indonesia, interest for the anti-parasitic drug has also ballooned in other Asian countries such as Malaysia, the Philippines and India. As infection numbers in these areas soar, influential officials and independent medical groups have stepped up their campaign for the use of ivermectin as a miracle medicine.

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Pudjiastuti told her 2.5 million Twitter followers that she had tested negative for the virus after seven days of self-isolation. “Thank God … in my desperation and the difficulty of full hospitals, I thought that anything was worth trying,” she added.