🇮🇳@COVID19Up: India’s COVID-19 catastrophe blasted across our media, but then quite suddenly the story faded. The good news is that since mid-May India’s new case rate has plummeted, with the death count following suit. According to Suranya Aiyar, “There is talk of lockdown being lifted in Delhi in phases from next week.” Meanwhile, the Taj Mahal reopened in Agra mid-June.

So, what happened?

In the absence of a robust vaccine roll-out, the go-to answer would be lockdown. But the effects of lockdown are arguably unpredictable as seen in Spain, Italy, and other countries where strict lockdowns have not translated into low death rates. India’s flu season ended in February so seasonality cannot explain the faltering pandemic either.

Perhaps ivermectin, a drug that most people haven’t heard of, is part of this amazing turnaround?

Although India’s national medical authorities (AIIMS & ICMR) didn’t officially include ivermectin in their COVID-19 treatment guidelines until April 22, 2021, Uttar Pradesh (16.51% of India’s population) advocated its use from August 2020. Furthermore, ivermectin sales indicate that 2.88 million people used ivermectin between Apr-Dec 2020. India’s death rates, first wave, were relatively low.

As the second wave broke in April 2021, several states pushed for ivermectin to be used as a preventative (or prophylactic) medicine too. On the ground, in Goa and Uttar Pradesh, this meant widespread provision of home treatment kits which included ivermectin. Uttar Pradesh at one time accounted for 74.55% of new recoveries and saw its death rate fall from 372 on May 7 to 136 June 4, a drop of 37%, in just under a month.

So what is ivermectin?

Ivermectin is a Nobel-prize winning, anti-viral, anti-parasitic medicine with an impeccable safety record which has been prescribed 3.7 billion times since 1988.

In early 2020, doctors across the world found it effective in the battle against COVID-19. Now used in 31 countries, ivermectin is endorsed by numerous scientific studies including twenty-nine randomised control trials.

While it’s hard to say with absolute certainty that ivermectin is responsible for the passing of India’s second wave, the data suggests it has been highly significant.

Meanwhile, across the globe in Mexico City in December 2020, the alarming rise in capital-wide infections prompted the city’s Ministry of Health to implement an early detection programme with rapid testing available at 230 public kiosks followed by distributing 83,000 ivermectin-based home kits to anyone showing symptoms. A study then looked at 233,849 people divided into those who took ivermectin and those who did not. Researchers found a reduction of between 52%-76% in hospitalisations for those who took ivermectin, compared to those that didn’t.

If more than half of adults in my country have been fully vaccinated, what has ivermectin got to do with me?

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are around 95% effective and AstraZeneca between 85-90%. In the absence of early treatment, NHS symptom guidelines suggest getting a PCR test and then self-isolating. For those who will inevitably be left unprotected by the vaccines, ivermectin would provide a safety net, treating the disease before it progresses to a more severe state, thus reducing the burden on the NHS.

Furthermore, the CDC advises against vaccination for those who’ve had a previous allergic reaction to any of the vaccine ingredients—polyethylene glycol for instance. If anyone has a reaction to the first jab, such as hives, swelling or wheezing (respiratory distress), a second jab is also not recommended. For these people ivermectin provides an invaluable safety net.

If you would like to know more about the ivermectin story visit BIRD (British Ivermectin Research Development) at bird-group.org.

Written by Simon Powell

This article was chosen for republication based on the interest of our readers. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect COVID-19 Up editorial policy.

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