Head Lice Drug Could Be Used to Combat Coronavirus, Studies Show

Ivermectin — developed in the 1970s and 1980s — was first used to treat roundworms in cattle and river blindness in humans.

The latest lead for a potential cure to the novel coronavirus is a treatment used to combat head lice.

Preliminary tests done with an antiparasitic drug called Ivermectin are showing promising results, with experts expressing "cautious optimism," according to ABC News.

"Finding a safe, affordable, readily available therapy like ivermectin if it proves effective with rigorous evaluation has the potential to save countless lives," Dr. Nirav Shah, an infectious disease expert with the NorthShore University HealthSystem, told the outlet.

Ivermectin is said to treat the novel coronavirus like a parasite, potentially blocking the virus from infecting healthy cells.

"We found that even a single dose could essentially remove all viral RNA by 48 hours and that even at 24 hours there was a really significant reduction in it,” Dr. Kylie Wagstaff, the leader of the team from Melbourne’s Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, told ABC.

The drug was developed in the 1970s and 1980s to treat roundworms, called nematodes, in cattle, then river blindness in humans and recently head lice on humans, ABC reported.

But these new studies show it may be effective in fighting COVID-19.

One study at the University of Utah discovered "critically ill patients with lung injury requiring mechanical ventilation may benefit from administration of Ivermectin," per the outlet.

"We noted a lower mortality and reduced healthcare resource use in those treated with ivermectin," said the study’s lead author, Dr. Amit Patel.

Both findings, however, need more testing, experts say.

"I think between the two studies, there is some optimism — but I would remain cautious," said Dr. Christopher DeSimone, an infectious disease specialist at the Mayo Clinic.

Meanwhile, at Broward Health Medical Center in Florida, Dr. Jean-Jacques Rajter has been treating COVID-19 patients with a cocktail of Ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and zinc sulfate with surprising success, according to NBC Miami.

"If we get to these people early, and what I mean by that is if their oxygen requirements are less than 50 percent, I’ve had nearly a 100 percent response rate, they all improve, if they’re on more oxygen than that, then it becomes a little more varied, some people, they don’t respond anymore because they are too far advanced," he explained to the outlet

But he maintained that his cocktail is still early in its evaluation process.

"It’s not a miracle cure, we’re not talking about a miracle cure," Rajter said. "To me the message remains the same as it’s been all along — social distancing, stay away from people, wear a mask, which I took off for the interview, wash your hands, when you bring something into the home make sure you sanitize everything, that is really the message."

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