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Another possible cure for coronavirus, found in sheep dip: Ivermectin

A single treatment able to effect ∼5000-fold reduction in virus at 48h in cell culture.”

–Caly et al 2020

It’s another day in freaky chemistry — researchers at Monash University found that one of the main components of sheep drench is also very good at reducing Coronavirus, at least in test tubes. Ivermectin’s an unsung hero of the world of biochemistry, called a “Wonder Drug” and a “Blockbuster” because it works against  roundworms, lungworms, mites, lice, scabies and hornflies, as well as cattle-ticks. Most importantly, it kills the worm that causes River Blindness, saving the vision of thousands in sub-saharan Africa, and places like Ecuador.

That’s doesn’t mean it will work in vivo — and it may be a month before human trials begin so we can find out.

Possibly, in a few months you might be able to kill off Coronavirus and deworm yourself at the same time.

Though the human experiment is already probably happening in countries where it is being used already and coronavirus is circulating. Surely we can track those cases?

And at least in Australia, unlike Chloroquine — which we don’t have much of — with 70 million sheep I can’t see us running out of sheep dip.  (If indeed Ivermectin turns out to be useful against coronavirus). They won’t run out in New Zealand either where there are 6 sheep for every person.

How long will it be before some unfortunate sod drinks sheep drench  like the man who drank fish tank cleaner.

Coronavirus breakthrough as scientists discover a drug used to treat HEAD LICE can kill COVID-19 cells

An anti-parasitic head lice drug available around the world has been found to kill COVID-19 in the lab within 48 hours.

A Monash University-led study has shown a single dose of the drug Ivermectin could stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus growing in cell culture.

‘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,’ Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute’s Dr Kylie Wagstaff said on Friday.

The cost of Ivermectin is around 15c in the third world, and $50 for one round for a human in New York.  (Still a lot cheaper than a $5000 a day ICU bed.)

…Merck has donated well over 2.5 billion Mectizan® tablets for Onchocerciasis treatment, with in excess of 700 million treatments authorised. Currently, some 80–90 million people are taking the drug annually through MDA in Africa, Latin America and Yemen. A further 300 million total treatments have been approved for lymphatic filariasis, with around 90 million treatments being administered annually (Fig. (Fig.8 ).8 ).

The drug was discovered in 1975 derived from a microbe in Japanese soil. By 2011 some $4 billion dollars worth of Ivermectin have been donated to the third world.

It is used humans, even in children:

Ivermectin, while paralyzing body-wall and pharyngeal muscle in nematodes has no such impact in mammals, as it cannot cross the blood-brain barrier into the mammalian Central Nervous System, where GABA receptors are located.

It can be taken orally to kill head lice. It just means a lot of safety testing has been done already.

Why antiviral and antiparasitic?


When Ivvermectin binds to “Imp B” the viral protein can’t get across the BPC into the nucleus.

There is no obvious reason why these should be connected, but apparently  Ivermectin is useful against other viruses too, including HIV, Dengue, West Nile, and influenza. (As an nice spin off from covid-19 we might find ways to cure the flu.)

RNA viruses seem to need to use a molecule called “importin” to get themselves into the nucleus of the cell, and Ivermectin blocks that.

 Ivermectin has since been confirmed to inhibit IN nuclear import and HIV-1 replication5. Other actions of ivermectin have been reported7, but ivermectin has been shown to inhibit nuclear import of host (eg.8,9) and viral proteins, including simian virus SV40 large tumour antigen (T-ag) and dengue virus (DENV) non-structural protein 55, 6. Importantly, it has been demonstrated to limit infection by RNA viruses such as DENV 1-44, West Nile Virus10, Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV)3 and influenza2, with this broad spectrum activity believed to be due to the reliance by many different RNA viruses on IMPα/β1 during infection11,12

 — ScienceDirect

But to show how fickle these things can be, even though it made it to phase III clinical trials against Dengue in Thailand, and it reduced the viral count in vivo, it still didn’t produce a clinical benefit.

So keep a sober mind that reducing viral loads in test tubes may not translate into saving lives in the ICU ward.

But even if Ivermectin is not the answer — something else will be, and hammering this virus is helping us buy the time to find what that is. We will figure this out and it may be sooner than people think.

There’s never been a time like this, with modern biotech, a trillion dollar life-and-death-carrot, and labs focused on this all around the world.

UPDATE: Norm der Ploom   April 6, 2020 at 10:58 am points out that Ivermectin is a sheep anthelmintec which is a drench not a dip. Drenches are administered orally to kill internal parasites whilst sheep are dipped in other chemicals to kill external parasites.

Plain Jane uses Ivermectin and other treatments and has details on which is used and where in agriculture. It is not used as an oral sheep drench any more, but is for horses, and is poured on the backs of cattle. She hopes no one drinks this. See  April 6, 2020 at 8:26 am

h/t Steve McIntyre @ClimateAudit, via Willie S, Another Ian, Bill in Oz, El Gordo, OriginalSteve


Caly, L. et al (2020) The FDA-approved Drug Ivermectin inhibits the replication of SARS-CoV-2 in vitrohttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.antiviral.2020.104787


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