Ivermectin, a Common Veterinary Anti-Parasitic Holds Promise to Treat COVID-19


The name Ivermectin might seem familiar to you, especially if you happen to be a pet owner. Ivermectin is the drug name (not the brand name) found in  in monthly heartworm preventions for dogs and cats; it is also used to treat ear mites; mites that cause mange, hookworms and roundworms in companion animals and soon – perhaps, COVID-19?

A Melbourne, Australia Monash University-led study demonstrates that a single dose of the drug Ivermectin could stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus growing in cell culture. Note, the effect stops growth – and very effectively – but demonstrating efficacy in a cell culture is very different than a human body, but it’s where studies begin. All this has been published in the Journal AntiViral Research.

In their press release, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute Dr Kylie Wagstaff said  “We found that even a single dose could essentially remove all viral RNA (effectively removed all genetic material of the virus) by 48 hours and that even at 24 hours there was a really significant reduction in it,”

The collaborative study led by Monash University’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute with the Peter Doherty Institute of Infection and Immunity showed that Ivermectin reduced Covid-19 viral RNA present in the cell culture by 93 percent after 24 hours and by 99.8 percent after 48 hours – around a 5,000-fold reduction in coronavirus RNA, indicating that the Ivermectin treatment was leading to the loss of “essentially all viral material.”

By 48th hour, this effect increased to an ∼5000-fold reduction of viral RNA in ivermectin-treated compared to control samples, indicating that Ivermectin treatment resulted in the effective loss of essentially all viral material by two days.

While it’s not known how Ivermectin works on the virus, the drug likely stops the virus dampening the host cells’ ability to clear it.

Heartworm in dogs and cats is transmitted by mosquitoes and is nearly totally preventable using ivermectin

The next step is for scientists to determine the correct human dosage, to make sure the level used in vitro is safe for humans with COVID-19.

Having said that, Ivermectin is used in humans, and is today FDA-approved for a number of parasitic infections.

The papers’ authors don’t hold back on their enthusiasm, “Altogether the current report, combined with a known-safety profile, demonstrates that ivermectin is worthy of further consideration as a possible SARS-CoV-2 antiviral.”

Other Veterinary Based Possibilities to Treat COVID-19

This is only one of several examples of how veterinary medicine is participating to support a potential therapeutic to treat SARS-CoV-2 virus. Remdesivir is an anti viral drug which, via the non-profit Winn Feline Foundation, was approved to study in a trial by Dr. Niels Pedersen, distinguished professor University of  California Davis to treat feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), which is derived from a corona virus. The pharma company, Gilead suggested a nearly identical and less expensive drug, which worked to cure the previously fatal FIP.

Louisiana State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine are also working on a drug to treat SARS-CoV-2.