The recent AIIMS Bhubaneswar study evidencing ivermectin as a potential prophylactic against COVID-19 has generated more activity in the Indian press than typically observed with other studies centering on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved antiparasitic medication. Although TrialSite reported recently that the national guidelines rejected the medication due to lack of evidence, perhaps this recent study may remind some in the national government not only of the potential but the fact that ivermectin is used across much of India at the state and local level in a multifaceted effort to fight COVID-19. Doctors from one of India’s premier medical schools declare that according to this study, the use of ivermectin has led to successful outcomes.
TrialSite News published the AIIMS study, which was published in preprint server medRxiv, highlighting that “Two-dose ivermectin prophylaxis at a dose of 300 μg/kg with a gap of 72 hours was associated with 73% reduction of COVID-19 infection among healthcare workers for the following one-month.” Rightly, the research team concluded that “Further research is required before its large-scale use.”
Again, for a summary of the yet to be peer-reviewed results see TrialSite just a couple of days ago.
AIIMS Guidelines includes Ivermectin
In the most recent update in India’s The Print, Dr. Anjan Trikha, professor of anesthesiology, pain and critical care at AIIMS, commented that the institution has been using ivermectin off-label targeting SARS-CoV-2 since April 3, 2020. Explaining the protocol involved 12 mg for a three-day course, he emphasized the drug “…is relatively safe, with chances of potential complications being less, and it’s cheap.”
TrialSite has reported that the ICMR, the apex regulatory body, doesn’t include ivermectin, however, back on Sept. 11, a TrialSite reader made the media group aware of the AIIMS protocol involving ivermectin.
As it turns out, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) does maintain a document called the “National e-ICU on COVID-19 Management” that includes ivermectin as a treatment option for COVID-19, however, only on a limited basis. Specifically, “Ivermectin has been found to be a potent inhibitor of SARS CoV2 replication in vitro, but the doses required to achieve this effect in vivo far exceeds the usual dose. It is currently not recommended in the national guidelines but can be used in patients in whom HCQ is contraindicated.”
India Press Active
A wave of published articles in India touts the most recent findings out of the prestigious AIIMS. BGR reports that “Researchers think this drug can prevent coronavirus infection—and it’s not a vaccine;” while Times of India published “Ivermectin can prevent the spread of coronavirus,” and The New Indian Express reports “Ivermectin prophylaxis leads to 73 percent reduction in COVID Infection AIIMs—Bhubaneswar study.“
What is the AIIMS?
A prestigious group of autonomous government public medical colleges, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), came into being via an Act of Parliament as Institutes of National Importance. The first such institute was AIIMS New Delhi, established in 1956. Since then, 22 more institutes have formed. And by January 2020, 15 institutes operate ongoing, with at least eight more expected to become optional by 2025.
In the United States, ivermectin, although approved by the FDA for various indications, is not approved or recommended for COVID-19 at this point. Both the U.S. FDA and NIH have established the drug as a potential candidate for clinical trials targeting COVID-19, but nothing else. Interestingly, Western government agencies have expressed very little interest to even fund small studies, despite growing data indicating that ivermectin inhibits SARS-CoV. Something is holding them back.
AIIMS Bhubaneswar is located in Bhubaneswar, Odisha India, on the northeastern edge of the country.