Governments around the world continue to demonize the cheap, safe, effective, and Nobel prize-winning drug, ivermectin. Last year, the Malaysian Ministry of Health commissioned a task force of experts (DETF-Ivermectin) to investigate ivermectin as a treatment for Covid-19. In December 2022, DETF-Ivermectin submitted its report, suggesting that, “Ivermectin should not be included as a standard treatment for Covid-19 in Malaysia.” This conclusion was reached despite the reference of four systematic reviews, three of which support the use of ivermectin, and despite significant accompanying scientific evidence of its effectiveness.

DETF-Ivermectin’s report is essentially based on the fallacious argument that the administration of doses up to 100-fold higher than those approved for use in humans would be required to achieve the plasma concentrations necessary for the antiviral efficacy detected in vitro. This is a crude interpretation of an in vitro study on monkey cells and is contradicted by a body of studies showing that the dosage recommended by the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC)—400-600 µg/kg administered daily with or immediately after a meal—would be sufficient to achieve effective concentrations. The authors of the report omit the many other modes of action of ivermectin that may explain the efficacy shown in numerous studies published between 2020 and 2021. They also fail to mention two studies showing efficacy of ivermectin in co-medication with doxycycline and zinc for severely hypoxic Covid-19 patients.

The World Council for Health would like to point out the methodological weakness of the more recently published randomized trials on which the conclusion of this report appears to be based. Note that none of these recent trials is designed with the intention of showing: 

  • efficacy of ivermectin in preventing the disease;
  • an antiviral effect of ivermectin that requires a protocol similar to those of new antivirals promoted by pharmaceutical companies, including early start of treatment and appropriate dosage, duration, and administration of ivermectin in a fed state;
  • the effectiveness of the multi-drug protocol for treating severely hypoxic Covid-19 patients.

The World Council for Health would like to remind public health agencies and health ministries that ivermectin is by now, well-established as an essential, safe, and effective treatment in the fight against Covid-19. Not to endorse or permit its use is to deprive people of medical choice at best, and life-saving treatment at worst. We exhort governments, including the Malaysian Ministry of Health, to allow the highest quality evidence, not the poorest, to inform their policies and thus establish ivermectin within Covid-19 treatment protocols. 

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