Australian researchers have published a study showing a drug commonly used to treat parasite infections can also kill coronavirus in a laboratory setting in under 48 hours.
Researchers at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia have discovered that the antiparasitic drug Ivermectin can inhibit replication of SARS-CoV-2, the virus the causes Covid-19, according to a study published Friday in the journal 'Antiviral Research', reports Newsweek.
"Ivermectin is very widely used and seen as a safe drug. We need to figure out now whether the dosage you can use it at in humans will be effective—that's the next step," said the study's leader Dr. Kylie Wagstaff in a statement.
"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," she added.
However, health authorities are warning people against self-medicating with Ivermectin.
Ivermectin has been used around the world for years as a treatment for a range of conditions including head lice and scabies, and it is available as a pill, lotion and shampoo.
While today praising the work of the researchers involved in the study, Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos urged people not to misuse the substance, reports ABC.
"There is no reason to be buying lice treatment unless you're going to be using it on your children's hair," Ms Mikakos said during a press conference updating Victorians on the coronavirus pandemic.
"I just want to stress that because we've heard about people overseas who have heard about potential developments and then have ingested drugs that have been used in a completely inappropriate way and have died as a result.
"I don't want to see people rushing out to their pharmacies or their supermarkets buying lice treatments now because scientists are doing this work."
Research was carried out on cell cultures in the lab, which does not always translate to effectiveness in people who have contracted an infection. Ivermectin has been effective against a wide range of viruses when studied in vitro. Further research will be needed to determine whether the drug could be used to treat Covid-19.