Ivermectin: can it treat Covid-19? See what it’s for

There are many pathologies that can come from worms or parasites. For their treatment, drugs with fast action are usually needed in order to stop the action of the external agent.

An example is the medications that rely on Ivermectin as an active ingredient.

But in addition, at the beginning of April 2020 – amid the global pandemic of Covid-19 -, researchers cataloged a study showing promising results that could be a possible way for the treatment of the new coronavirus .

Thinking about it, better understand what this substance is, instructions for use and information about the study about Covid-19:

What is Ivermectin and what is it for?

The Ivermectin is the name of a drug substance which acts as active ingredient (drug) in which the treatment medication is intended for conditions caused by parasitic worms or – as ascariasis, scabies and onchocerciasis.

For this reason, it is also common to be present in veterinary remedies.

Among the medications for human use, there are different versions sold. However, they are all in a tablet version and are always administered orally.

It is worth mentioning that Ivermectin is approved by ANVISA (National Health Surveillance Agency), classified as antiparasitic . Thus, it is understood that it is marketed and administered as a substance with safety and proven efficacy for that purpose based on tests.

Ivermectin: dogs and cats

As mentioned, Ivermectin can be present in veterinary drugs, with the same action as for human use. That is, acting as an antiparasitic.

In general, this substance is used to treat and fight internal and external parasites in domestic animals. Thus, it can be used in cases of common scabies , demodectic mange (it causes numerous scales, and can evolve into wounds), otodectic mange (affects only the auditory canal), gastrointestinal worms, heart worms, etc.

Administration should always be orally and the recommended doses change depending on the clinical case (usually vary between 0.05 milligram to 0.6 milligram per kilo of the animal).

Therefore, consult a veterinarian in order to make a safe use of your pet.

Ivermectin for humans: what is the indication?

Ivermectin (drug), as well as the drugs that have it as an active ingredient, is indicated for the treatment and combat of diverse conditions, caused by worms or parasites. Among them are:

  • Intestinal strongyloidiasis – intestinal disease caused by parasites, causes symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain and flatulence;
  • Onchocerciasis – a disease caused by a parasite that affects the skin and eyes;
  • Filariasis (elephantiasis) – a disease caused by a parasite, directly affects the ganglia and lymphatic system. In the long run it can cause swelling in the legs, arms and genitals;
  • Ascariasis (roundworm) – it is an intestinal worms, can cause stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, lack of appetite or no symptoms;
  • Scabies (scabies) – it is a skin disease caused by parasites, it is contagious and causes skin rashes and a lot of itching;
  • Pediculosis (louse) – this is a very common condition, caused by a parasite that lodges in hair follicles and feeds on blood, the main symptom is itching.

Its performance occurs by paralyzing the muscles of worms and parasites, causing their deaths and eliminating them from the body.

This paralysis is mediated by the potentiation or activation of the parasite’s chlorine channels (CI-), sensitive to avermectins (series of drugs used to treat parasitic worms). The action is effective because these channels are present only in the nerves and muscle cells of invertebrates.

Thus, once potentiated, they generate an increase in the permeability of the cell membrane to chloride ions, with hyperpolarization (increase in the potential difference between the external and internal environment of the membrane) of the nerves or muscle cells.

This process is what results in paralysis and, consequently, in the death of the parasite. Therefore, in the vast majority of cases, with just one dose it is possible to completely eliminate the parasite from the body.

Ivermectin and Coronavirus (Covid-19)

On April 3, 2020, researchers from Monash University (Australia) published a study indicating that the use of Ivermectin decreased the viral material of the new coronavirus by almost 100% in in-vitro tests (in laboratory cells, outside the human body).

Some previous studies had already discussed the antiviral potential of Ivermectin for the treatment of other diseases, such as dengue .

In this current study, the researchers infected the cells with the new coronavirus (Sars-CoV-2) in order to test the effectiveness of the antiparasitic in combating the infectious agent. Cell observations were performed over 72 hours.

The first sample, collected 24 hours after the use of Ivermectin, demonstrated a 93% reduction in viral load. The second and third samples (48h and 72h after using the substance, respectively) showed a 99.9% reduction.

This is because Ivermectin works by preventing the reproduction of the Sars-CoV-2 virus inside the cell, which limits the infection.

In addition, the study indicates that if it is possible to create an antivirus for the new coronavirus from this substance, use in the early stage of the infection could limit the viral load. Consequently, it would be possible to prevent transmission and decrease the worsening of the infected person’s clinical condition.

However, it must be borne in mind that these results were only in relation to in-vitro tests Many other tests are needed to prove the efficacy and safety of using Ivermectin for humans in the treatment of Covid-19.

In this sense, the pharmaceutical Francielle Mathias reinforces the importance of “making it clear that the results of these studies are not in humans infected with covid-19 , they are very preliminary studies. Ivermectin is a medicine with proven use for parasitic diseases only, it is a tarred medicine, used with a medical prescription ”.

In addition, she adds that it is “of paramount importance that patients with suspected or diagnosed coronavirus do not use this medication on their own “, considering that self-medication can cause health problems.

Cautions and precautions

It is not uncommon for some medications to have restrictions or differentiated use for certain populations or people under specific conditions. Check out what applies in the case of Ivermectin:

Pregnant and lactating women

There are no studies that prove the safe use of Ivermectin for pregnant women. Thus, the use of the substance is not indicated for women in this condition.

Still, it is worth noting that this medication can be excreted (even in low concentrations) in breast milk. Thus, it is not indicated that breastfeeding mothers use Ivermectin without medical recommendation.

Immunocompromised patients

In general, Ivermectin is always administered in a single dose and is effective in combating the problem in question.

However, in the case of patients with low immunity ( HIV carriers , autoimmune diseases , etc.) who need to undergo treatment against intestinal strongyloidiasis, it may be necessary to repeat the dose.

There are no studies that accurately determine the appropriate doses for patients in this profile. However, according to experiences, it is already known that it may be necessary to repeat the therapy several times and still not achieve a cure.


According to the package insert’s recommendations, Ivermectin should not be administered to children under 5 years old or under 15kg.

In case of doubts or other conditions, it is essential to follow the guidance of the doctor responsible for the treatment.


The package insert does not make specific indications regarding the use of Ivermectin for the elderly population. In that case, use should be administered as recommended for adults.

However, in case of specific conditions or other doubts, always follow the medical advice.

Where to find the leaflet?

The package insert for a medication contains all the necessary information regarding its indication, possible side effects, indicated dose, etc. Therefore, it is essential to read the package insert to make the safe use of a medication.

To find the leaflet for Ivermectin, or another remedy, you can use the Consultation Remedies website .

Contraindications for Ivermectin

According to the instructions on the package insert, Ivermectin is not indicated for patients with hypersensitivity to this active ingredient or to the other components of the formula.

In addition, there is also an indication that it should not be administered to patients with meningitis or other conditions (any sign of possible alteration to express the existence of a pathology) of the Central Nervous System (CNS), which may affect the blood- brain barrier .

This barrier is a highly selective permeability structure – this means that it regulates the passage of substances to the intra or extracellular medium, in a detailed way (or according to the name, selectively).

This protects the CNS from potentially neurotoxic substances , which may be present in the blood. Thus, this structure is essential for the normal metabolic function of the brain.

Therefore, due to the effects of Ivermectin on GABA-ergic receptors (which induce CNS inhibition, causing sedation) of the brain, it is not indicated for patients in the described characteristics.

Finally, the package insert reinforces that this medication is contraindicated for children under 15 kg or under 5 years old. In addition, there are not enough studies to prove safe use for pregnant women.

Does it have side effects?

-Yeah . Like any drug substance, Ivermectin can cause side effects to patients who use it. According to the package leaflet, the possible adverse reactions are:

  • Diarrhea and nausea;
  • Astenia (weakness);
  • Abdominal pain;
  • Anorexia;
  • Constipation (constipation);
  • Vomiting;
  • Dizziness;
  • Somnolence;
  • Tremors;
  • Skin rashes.

If you want to know about possible rare or very rare reactions, the ideal is to look for more information in the package leaflet and have medical help.

What is the dosage and how to take it?

The instructions on the package insert for the administration of Ivermectin are just that it should be ingested with water (ie, do not substitute for other liquids).

Regarding the dosage, the recommendation is a daily intake of 150 mcg / kg to 200 mcg / kg of the drug. So that the administration is done in a single dose , orally.

With regard to specific dosages, the package insert is divided into two tables: the first presents the ideal dose according to the patient’s weight for strongyloidiasis, filariasis, ascariasis, scabies and pediculosis.

The second table, on the other hand, also shows the ideal dosage based on the patient’s weight, but for cases of onchocerciasis.

In general, the package insert indicates that a single dose tends to be completely effective, not requiring continuity of treatment. However, always follow medical guidelines regarding doses, treatment time and other specifics.

How long does it take Ivermectin to take effect?

After ingestion, Ivermectin may take up to 4 hours to take effect in the body, at which point it reaches the necessary plasma concentrations.

After this initial period, the drug still continues to act in the body. However, there are many metabolic processes, so that due to the transformations that the molecule undergoes, the effect is declining – after 28 hours of ingestion the plasma concentrations reach half.

How long does it last in the body?

Since Ivermectin is a single dose drug, its process inside the body tends to be slow compared to other medications.

This justifies the information in the package insert that this substance stays for up to 12 days in the body, counting from the moment of ingestion, until it is completely eliminated.

In general, the excretion of Ivermectin occurs from the faeces, since only 1% of the administered dose is excreted from the urine (in conjugated or unchanged form).

When it comes to health, illness and medication, it is even more necessary to look for safe and reliable sources in order to ensure that you have access to the right information.

So, if you want to know more about other medications or health in general, keep following the Healthy Minute.