Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic agent, also has anti-viral properties. Our aim was to assess whether ivermectin can shorten the viral shedding in patients at an early-stage of COVID-19 infection.
Methods The double-blinded trial compared patients receiving ivermectin 0·2 mg/kg for 3 days vs. placebo in non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients. RT-PCR from a nasopharyngeal swab was obtained at recruitment and then every two days. Primary endpoint was reduction of viral-load on the 6th day (third day after termination of treatment) as reflected by Ct level>30 (non-infectious level). The primary outcome was supported by determination of viral culture viability.
Results Eighty-nine patients were eligible (47 in ivermectin and 42 in placebo arm). Their median age was 35 years. Females accounted for 21·6%, and 16·8% were asymptomatic at recruitment. Median time from symptom onset was 4 days. There were no statistical differences in these parameters between the two groups.
On day 6, 34 out of 47 (72%) patients in the ivermectin arm reached the endpoint, compared to 21/ 42 (50%) in the placebo arm (OR 2·62; 95% CI: 1·09-6·31). In a multivariable logistic-regression model, the odds of a negative test at day 6 was 2.62 time higher in the ivermectin group (95% CI: 1·06–6·45). Cultures at days 2 to 6 were positive in 3/23 (13·0%) of ivermectin samples vs. 14/29 (48·2%) in the placebo group (p=0·008).
Conclusions There were significantly lower viral loads and viable cultures in the ivermectin group, which could lead to shortening isolation time in these patients.