TrialSite News continues to monitor the ivermectin story with interest. Now a city in Bolivia called Trinidad initiated a campaign to combat COVID-19 by handing out free doses of the anti-parasite drug in an effort to take on the pathogen in the eastern region of the country where more have contracted the virus. TrialSite News’ sources report of growing interest—and even authorization—of ivermectin in some of the more economically challenged South American nations. Is this faith in something not scientifically proven based on desperation or do they know something we don’t?
Ivermectin in Story in a Nutshell
Australian universities (Monash University & Peter Doherty Institute) identified the possibility of ivermectin treating COVID-19 in a lab setting in a cell culture within 48 hours. Critics declared this was done with larger doses in vitro not duplicative in human clinical trials. However, the work from the path-breaking scientists in Australia planted the seed of scientific curiosity in researchers around the world. Hence, now ivermectin proof-of-concept-based human clinical trials are now occurring in the following:
- University of Tanta, Egypt
- Mansoura University, Egypt
- University of Baghdad, Iraq
- General Directorate of Medical City, Iraq
- University of Kentucky, USA
- Johns Hopkins University, USA
- Clinica Universisad de Navarra, Spain
- Combined Military Hospital Lahore, Pakistan
- Max Super Specialty Hospital, Saket, India
- Laboratorio Elea Phoenix S.A., Argentina
- Jose Manuel Arreola Guerra
- Aguascalientes, Mexico (physician)
Other areas are exploring the use including at least one physician in the United States and based on our recent interview in Bangladesh the Bangladesh Medical College.
Pandemic in Bolivia
This country of 11.35 million has 4,481 cases with 189 deaths. Trinidad is located in the eastern region of Beni with 581 of the total cases and 41 deaths. The country has been under a total lockdown for nearly two months reports U.S. News & World Report’s Monica Machicao and Carlos Vargas with Daniel Ramos. The region of Beni sits in the northeast of Bolivia, the country’s second largest “department” is comprised primarily of tropical lowlands with a population of just under half a million. Trinidad is the capital and a place where coronavirus is taking more lives. Bolivia, although a developing nation, has seen a miraculous economic growth over the past two decades as the nation’s poverty rate declined from over 60% in 2003 to 34.6% today. This pandemic, of course, threatens that direction.
Becoming a Standard on Questionable Sources; Faith or a Different Type of insight?
TrialSite News has reports that some South American nations, or at least some regions or provinces, have already approved ivermectin as a treatment for SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19. Our sources tell us that some of these actions have been based on a report that has questionable underlying data sources and assumptions, including “the Patel paper,” which we shared and as well, questioned the underlying data sources.
Perhaps there is a sense of desperation and lack of economic wherewithal to buy large amounts of remdesivir? Remdesivir only shortens the duration of the illness for four days—according to a study.
Regardless, based on our research and interviews, there is a growing movement around the world to at least consider experimenting with ivermectin—especially in some developing economies but also in the developed world. Why? It has a well-established safety profile (it has been in use for decades), it is widely available, and it is economical. If it can be shown that it can fight off COVID-19 as well as if not better than remdesivir, then why wouldn’t it be embraced? Of course, evidence from randomized controlled trials is a must and that isn’t available yet, hence the human faith element that can be dangerous.
TrialSite News emphasizes that to date there is no scientific evidence that ivermectin works as a treatment against SARS-CoV-2—there are clinical studies that if they are designed properly will help the world better understand the widely available and affordable drug’s place in the battle against this horrific disease—one that is devastating global economies, which can lead to even worse social contagions.
The Beni Region Situation: ‘Not Scientifically Validated’ but Authorized
Health Ministry Marcelo Navajas recently informed local media that he acknowledged that the drug wasn’t proven to treat COVID-19—“It’s a product that does not have scientific validation in the treatment of coronavirus.” However, he continued, “It does serve to treat parasitic diseases and other types of diseases. Therefore, we ask our medical colleagues who are going to use this product to do so with informed consent.”
In Beni, a few American news outlets report that many people are willing to try the drug if they fell ill to SARS-CoV-2. Why? Well, they are scared. This disease and the way governments have locked everything down—the images on the television and internet-based news of places like Italy and New York City—its frightening for many around the world.
This fear is daily in Bolivia and this can produce a natural human tendency for hope in an all-encompassing scientific “cure” opposing an invisible, deadly enemy. Yara Zampeira, a resident of Beni, commented to local press about her “faith” in the drug: “We are afraid of testing positive for coronavirus because of the constant deaths that are seen every day in Trinidad. We have faith and we believe that ivermectin has made my mother improve.”
TrialSite News monitors multiple research sources that could trigger the world’s interest when it comes to ivermectin and its use against COVID-19. Nothing can be reported until the confluence of multiple data feeds equate to a scientifically sound reality. But the upbeat nature of progress indicates the potential for a positive prognosis. The world generally has responded with an incredible commitment, speed, veracity and dedication to a bigger and broader commitment to the human condition. In the U.S.A with Operation Warp Speed, the partisan differences need to be somehow put aside, at least in some way, and channeled to the commitment and dedication for a pivot out of the pandemic and into a health and economic recovery. Health is important; without it, the enjoyment of family, social relationships, economic vitality and all else good in the world becomes secondary to the instinct for bare survival. Material political-economy and health are intertwined in deep, primordial ways. Scientific communities around the world must be open-minded to new valid data and associated hypotheses, and over the coming months, there will be a lot to talk about.