Is a COVID-19 “Wonder Drug” Already Sitting on Pharmacy Shelves?
Bluffton hotel owner, Vince Harrison suffered severely with COVID-19. Only 48 hours after one dose of ivermectin, he was symptom free. Is this "wonder drug" from Japan the key to preventing and treating COVID-19?
A potential treatment for COVID-19 has been sitting inconspicuously on pharmacy shelves for months. Ivermectin—a common anti-parasitic drug often prescribed to animals and humans alike—may be the dark horse in the race to an effective treatment for SARS-CoV-2.
hen local hoteliers Vince and Danielle Harrison tested positive for COVID-19, it was only the beginning of their perilous battle with the deadly virus. “It’s a surreal feeling when they tell you, ‘You’ve got COVID-19,’ because that train is on the tracks—there’s no changing it and you don’t know how it’s going to affect your body. You don’t know whether it’s going to lock you down and you’ll die, or if you’ll be asymptomatic. And for us, we were not asymptomatic,” Vince describes.
The Harrisons—husband-and-wife owners of the Old Town Bluffton Inn in South Carolina—were completely sidelined from running their business. Danielle describes how they spent 10 days in agony: bed-ridden, continuous fever, loss of taste and smell, body aches and chills. She then describes a phone call with one of their clients that completely changed their fate.
Dr. Stafford Warren is a board-certified cardiologist and Fellow in the American College of Cardiology (FACC), and has authored or co-authored over 50 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals. He has been practicing medicine since he completed his fellowship in cardiology at Duke University in 1975 and has been a client of the Harrisons for nearly 15 years. So, when Dr. Warren suggested they try a drug called ivermectin, they didn’t think twice. “Over the years through talking to [Dr. Warren], I’ve always valued his opinion when I’ve bounced things off. When he wrote the script, 20 minutes later we marched up to CVS to get it—and I have to tell you, it was like a wonder drug, it was magic,” says Danielle.
If ivermectin sounds familiar, that’s because it is. It has been used worldwide as an anti-parasitic and is perhaps most commonly produced for veterinary purposes as a de-wormer. Ivermectin was first approved for human use in 1987 and researchers began investigating the drug’s antiviral properties in 2012. Over 300 million doses of ivermectin are donated annually via the Mectizan Donation Program to treat river blindness and lymphatic filariasis globally in at-risk communities. Ivermectin also appears on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines.
“To have the knowledge now that ivermectin will wipe COVID-19 out like it’s nothing, it’s like turning off a monster. You know, you run all year long from the invisible monster, then you find out that this $27 pill will just wipe it out. That changes my personal level of confidence.” – Vince Harrison
Dr. Warren first prescribed ivermectin to his son who tested positive for COVID-19, then to 10 patients—including the Harrisons—who all reported to be nearly 100% better within 36 hours. He cites an in vitro study (also cited by the FDA) that saw a 5,000-fold reduction of COVID-19 in a test tube with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) treated with ivermectin, as opposed to the tube with SARS-CoV-2 and a placebo.
He cites another study that focused on 203 subjects who had recent, close contact with a person who had tested positive for COVID-19. One group was treated with two doses of ivermectin over the course of 72 hours and one group was given a placebo. Of the group that took ivermectin, only 7.4% developed COVID-19, whereas 58.4% of the placebo group went on to develop COVID-19. In a study by affiliates of Broward Health in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, four Broward Health hospitals saw a 13% mortality rate in consecutively hospitalized COVID-19-positive patients who took ivermectin compared to a 25% mortality rate in those who did not take the drug.
Currently, ivermectin is not an FDA-approved treatment for COVID-19. Dr. Warren explains that without large, randomized trials (usually carried out in the US and reviewed by the FDA), approval for its use against a new agent is very unlikely. “On the other hand, if you’ve got a drug that has been around for many years, used for other indications, and has proven to be safe—and you’ve got a deadly pandemic with a new disease, and you know an available drug is effective with preliminary evidence and that it really does make a difference in preventing and modifying the severity of it—why not take it? That’s where I’m coming from,” explains Dr. Warren.
Vince Harrison, now recovered following only one dose of ivermectin, commented, “To have the knowledge now that ivermectin will wipe COVID-19 out like it’s nothing, it’s like turning off a monster. You know, you run all year long from the invisible monster, then you find out that this $27 pill will just wipe it out. That changes my personal level of confidence,” says Vince. “Our whole civilization has been locked up in fear over this thing and I want everybody to feel the way that I feel, because I’m not afraid of it anymore at all. It’s not just because I’ve had [COVID-19]—I think it’s because I now know there is a solution to the problem.”
While COVID-19 vaccines—such as Pfizer and Moderna—are working through the preliminary stages of distribution in the United States, virus numbers continue to rise at an alarming rate nationally. The infrastructure for vaccine distribution continues to adapt, so an effective, safe treatment and promising preventative measure could greatly reduce the spread in the meantime. Currently, there are nearly 70 ongoing trials worldwide investigating the effectiveness of ivermectin as a treatment for SARS-CoV-2, reports Dr. Warren.
As small business owners, grocery clerks, service industry workers and more Americans continue to go to work every day, putting themselves at risk for the sake of their families and to pay bills, the vaccine cannot come soon enough. As worldwide clinical trials of ivermectin-for-COVID-19 treatments gather more promising data, perhaps this dark horse is the knight in shining armor many of our neighbors need.
To learn more about ivermectin (brand name Stromectol), view drug information here.
Get to know Dr. Stafford Warren at his US News and World Report profile. Dr. Warren has co-authored a comprehensive book called “The COVID-19 pandemic and the future,” to be published by the Royal Society of Chemistry. The book investigates and chronicles the COVID-19 outbreak from patient zero through the first six months following the official pandemic declaration on March 11, 2020. The first 11 chapters are available online here.
Still have questions? Here are some answers:
Q: Are there more numbers?
Dr. Warren described an observational, retrospective study in Bangladesh where 115 hospitalized individuals who were COVID-19 positive were given ivermectin and 133 control COVID-10 positive patients did not take the drug. Here are the results:
|Ivermectin Group||Control Group|
|Number of individuals||115||133|
|Of those who developed pneumonia who then required oxygen||9.6%||45.9%|
|Recovery time||4 days||15 days|
|Intensive care required||0.09%||8.3%|
Q: How does ivermectin (common anti-parasitic) work as an anti-viral medication?
Dr. Warren describes the drugs mechanism: “The only way the virus infects is by replicating itself. If you can keep it from replicating once it gets into the body, then one’s own mechanisms will recognize it as being foreign and destroy it. Ivermectin inhibits the viral transport mechanism once the virus enters a mammalian cell and thereby keeps the virus from reaching the cell nucleus and taking over its reproductive machinery. Over the period of 10 days or so the body will develop antibodies that will then attack and kill the virus. If you can keep it from replicating, that’s the real key. The SARS-CoV-2 can cause the immune system to go haywire, because it is able to attach itself so well to multiple organs throughout the body.”