Why is Ivermectin not being used for covid symptoms?

  • 28 Jun 2021
  • Reading time 27 mins
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ivermectin

Seven months after the evidence for Ivermectin for covid prevention came to the fore, the University of Oxford scientists are trialling giving Ivermectin to people with covid symptoms to see if it can keep them out of hospital. 'The Principle study will compare those given the drug to patients receiving the usual NHS care.’ reports the BBC news. Previously, in March, the BBC reported 'Ivermectin has been used to treat coronavirus in South America but it remains clinically unproven’.

The evidence for Ivermectin, like vitamin C, is substantial and I outline it in this report so you can read it for yourself. 

Now that it is becoming clear that current vaccines won’t sufficiently protect against the next generation of viral variants the pressure is on for a covid pill. The UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes we will have “a tablet you can take at home that will reduce the chance of the infection turning into more severe disease.” If he were talking about vitamin C or ivermectin I’d agree with him but if he is talking about a new drug, this is extremely unlikely without cutting safety corners.

One of the reasons I’m so strong on vitamin C is that it is so remarkably safe. It is, in fact, safer than water. Also, its anti-viral effect is across the board so it is not ‘variant dependent’ as are vaccines. Coupled with the evidence of its life-saving synergistic effects given with steroids in those with critical covid it is hard to understand why UK authorities continue to ignore the evidence. Jo Churchill, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care does now ‘note’ our review ‘Vitamin C – An Adjunctive Therapy for Respiratory Infection, Sepsis and COVID-19.’ Noting and acting are not the same thing. What we need is action.

ANTI-VIRAL PILLS – WHY NOT VITAMIN C AND IVERMECTIN?

The main weapon in the medical armoury for defeating the virus, we are being encouraged to believe, is vaccination. But while the roll-out seems successful to date, vaccines are far from being a one-stop solution. The reasons for this include:

a) they won't stop you getting infected although they should reduce the duration/severity by the original viral strains;

b) they won’t protect you sufficiently from most new variants - S.Africa, Brazil and Indian variants so far;

c) they could and do carry risks, albeit rare.

As a case in point both the modified adenovirus vector vaccines (Astra Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson) have resulted in an autoimmune ‘thrombocytopenia’, which means platelet counts drops dangerously and blood can’t clot properly. This has resulted in several deaths and disabilities and, consequently, these vaccines are already banned in some countries and not recommended in some age groups.

So while vaccine firms are now working around the clock to make the next ‘vaccine upgrade’ to counter new variants (research that started before the India variant arrived), the focus has now shifted to another approach - a pill to cut the risk of infection or to treat it.

Hence UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s promise that we will soon have “a tablet you can take at home that will reduce the chance of the infection turning into more severe disease or, if someone you live with has an infection, stop you getting the disease yourself”. [https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9491869/Coronavirus-Britain-pills-treat-Covid-autumn.html].

This announcement was ‘coincidentally’ followed by a press release from Pfizer announcing the start of trials on a new experimental drug they hope to be available by the end of the year. Pfizer’s spokesperson Dr. Neeta Ogden told CBS News that the drugs was a ‘game-changer’ but she stressed it was early days. “We haven't seen medication for the virus like the ones we have for flu that you can take early or prophylactically, even discussed yet,” she said.

The timetable seems very optimistic. New drugs, have to go through many stages to establish safety and the effective dose, which then have to be confirmed by a placebo controlled trial. Given that this involves hundreds of infected people. getting all that done and the drug licensed without short-cuts this year is a tall order.

In fact, given the time pressure, it seems quite possible that the drug companies will fail to disclose the full details of their results, including adverse effects, as they did before with the swine flu anti-viral drug Tamiflu (see below for details). It is also likely that the drug companies will ask the government to grant indemnity from prosecution for damaging side effects as has been done with vaccines, allowing them to cut short safety trials.

So are the antiviral drugs being tested really any better than alternatives such as vitamin C or Ivermectin, a repurposed anti-parasite drug, which have already passed safety checks and been run through numerous randomised controlled trials. (For comparisons between vitamin C and anti-virals see below.)

The reason we are not seeing old drugs or vitamins and nutrients trialled at the moment is because in order to make a profit drugs need to be patentable which means it has to do something unnatural, such as blocking a process involved in the disease. Nutrients cannot be patented because they exist, and so are not new agents.

How do anti-viral drugs work?

Unlike vaccines, which aim to induce ‘acquired or learnt’ immunity thereby priming the immune system to produce antibodies which attack the virus, anti-viral agents are designed to be more general in the way they block a virus’s ability to take hold.

Antiviral drugs really came to the fore in the treatment AIDS. The first was AZT, an anti-retroviral drug or ‘ARV’, launched in 1987, which blockd an enzyme called reverse transcriptase which is used by infected cells to make new viruses. Most anti-HIV drugs mess up reverse transcriptase in one way or another. Measuring reverse transcriptase is also the basis of PCR tests (Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction) for identifying coronavirus infection.

Another class of these drugs interferes with an enzyme called protease, also needed for viruses to multiply.

Perhaps the best known of these blocking drugs is called Tamiflu (oseltamivir) which stops another enzyme, neuraminidase, that allows newly created viruses to break out of cells and go on to infect more cells.

Tamiflu became widely known, not because of its effectiveness but because of the lengths the manufacturer – Roche – went to conceal its lack of effectiveness against swine flu and the significant side-effects it caused. It took a relentless campaign by the British Medical Journal over several years to gain access to hidden trial data, after which its effectiveness and safety profile got downgraded.

What is worrying about the current mad scramble to develop and market anti-virals against Covid-19 is that many of them are variations of the old neuraminidase inhibitor drugs such as laninamivir, oseltamivir (Tamiflu), peramivir (Rapivab) and zanamivir (Relenza). The Tamiflu saga does not inspire confidence that we are going to be told the truth about their effectiveness or lack of it, against Covid.

Ivermectin – a success story

The untrustworthiness of the drug companies makes it all the more imperative that developing new anti-covid treatments should not be excluding promising old or non-patentable contenders. One of these is the anti-parasite drug ivermectin. It works by blocking the cargo transporter that delivers the viral proteins into the nucleus of healthy cells to turn them into virus factories. This is how it is believed to work against covid. It can be taken preventatively, both to reduce risk of infection and transmission, and also when you become infected.

The fullest account to date of the evidence for this impressive claim is published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Therapeutics. It concludes that: “Meta-analyses based on 18 randomized controlled treatment trials of ivermectin in COVID-19 have found large, statistically significant reductions in mortality, time to clinical recovery, and time to viral clearance. Furthermore, results from numerous controlled prophylaxis trials report significantly reduced risks of contracting COVID-19 with the regular use of ivermectin. Finally, the many examples of ivermectin distribution campaigns leading to rapid population-wide decreases in morbidity and mortality indicate that an oral agent effective in all phases of COVID-19 has been identified.”

A recent example of how well it works is this recent study from India. This matched two sets of health care workers, half taking ivermectin and the other half not (two doses 3 days apart). Those taking ivermectin were 73% less likely to become SARS-CoV-2 infected/positive.1

The latest randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial gave Ivermectin (12mg) every day for five days to covid-infected hospital patients. Virological clearance, as measured by a positive PCR test was three days earlier in the ivermectin treatment group when compared to the placebo group (9.7 days vs 12.7 days) but there wasn’t a big difference in duration of symptoms. However it did show a reduction in viral load.2 The patients treated, however, were already sick and therefore didn’t start ivermectin as soon as they were infected. . The sooner you start the better.

One of the big advantages of ivermectin is that it appears you only need two doses in advance of infection, (usually circa 20mg taken twice, 3 days apart) because it lurks in the lungs for up to a month. There’s so much good evidence for ivermectin that the only possible reason that it is being ignored is that that it is off patent, hence cheap, so big pharma would rather kill it off.

Vitamin C

The other big contender is vitamin C. The case for it is set out in our review ‘Vitamin C—an Adjunctive Therapy for Respiratory Infection, Sepsis and COVID-19’. The abstract states: “Vitamin C’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating effects make it a potential therapeutic candidate, both for the prevention and amelioration of COVID-19 infection, and as an adjunctive therapy in the critical care of COVID-19.”

This literature review focuses on the vulnerability to infection caused by vitamin C deficiency in respiratory infections, including COVID-19, and the variety of ways that the vitamin supports the the body during an infection. These include preventing, shortening duration and severity of colds and pneumonia, and its ability to reduce the potentially deadly over-reaction of the immune system to infection known as sepsis.

The evidence to date indicates that oral vitamin C (2–8 g/d) may reduce the incidence and duration of respiratory infections and intravenous vitamin C (6–24 g/d) has been shown to reduce mortality, intensive care unit (ICU) and hospital stays, and time on mechanical ventilation for severe respiratory infections.

Unlike the drug contenders, vitamin C has a variety of mechanisms for both supporting a healthy immune response as well as suppressing viral activity. These include:

Vitamin C increases the production and function of B-cells, T-cells and macrophages or phagocytes. B-cells make more antibodies to target the invading virus with increased vitamin C. T-cells are our primary defence against viruses. Vitamin C, which is concentrated in t-cells, helps to make more of them. Other immune cells, such as Macrophages or phagocytes use vitamin C to both capture and kill viruses. Vitamin C increases the production and improves the function of all of these critical immune cells.3

Vitamin C inactivates viruses by inactivating reverse transcriptase It’s not only drugs that can block viruses use of reverse transcription to get cells to churn out copies of them. Back in 1990, when AIDS deaths were in the headlines, Linus Pauling and colleagues wanted to see what effect vitamin C might have, so they infected human T-cells in the lab with HIV then exposed them to non-toxic amounts of vitamin C. The virus was effectively inactivated. Reverse transcriptase was reduced by more than 99%.4 This study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, one of the top science journals in the world, was largely ignored.

They went on to show that vitamin C was also more effective than the drug AZT. A study on human T-cells showed that vitamin C suppresses the HIV virus in both chronically infected cells, while AZT has no significant effect.5

Infected cells produce more interferon when they have sufficient vitamin C. Vitamin C has been shown to increase production of the vital immune system compound interferon6 which ‘interferes’ with viral replication.

Vitamin C is a neuraminidase inhibitor stopping viruses from replicating. Vitamin C can block another compound – neuraminidase – used by viruses, the same one that Tamiflu targeted, Studies exposing type-A flu viruses, which includes bird and swine flu, to a nutrient mixture high in vitamin C together with green tea extract, lysine, proline, N-acetyl cysteine and selenium, that showed profound inhibition of the virus and inhibition of neuraminidase.7 In a further study the multi nutrient mixture outperformed Tamiflu when tested on Asian bird flu (A/H5N1).8

Here’s the conclusion of this study: “NM (nutrient mixture) demonstrated high antiviral activity evident even at prolonged periods after infection. NM antiviral properties were comparable to those of conventional drugs (amantadine and oseltamivir); however, NM had the advantage of affecting viral replication at the late stages of the infection process."

Vitamin C protects immune cells from oxidative damage9. Immune cells called macrophages load up on vitamin C which protects them from the oxidative damage9, they can suffer when they release ‘oxidant bullets’ in the form of superoxide radicals, hypochlorous acid (‘bleach’), and peroxynitrite ; to kill viruses but , in the process, they can damage the white blood cells themselves.10

Vitamin C is bacteriostatic or bactericidal. This is important since viral infections can sometimes lead to bacterial respiratory infections. This does depend somewhat on the bug. Vitamin C also detoxifies many bacterial toxins, stimulates non-lysozyme anti-bacterial factor (NLAF) found in tears and improves the performance of antibiotics. There is growing evidence that vitamin C in high doses, given orally or intravenously, should be used for the treatment of the disregulated immune response to infection known as sepsis.11 I had first hand experience of last year when I was diagnosed with sepsis, given an intravenous antibiotic drip and took 10g of vitamin C a day. After 48 hours I was fully recovered.

Tamiflu - will the same thing happen again?

The last time we were threatened with a viral epidemic the UK government stockpiled £500 million pounds worth of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu (oseltamivir),and will probably do the same when they jump behind the next big pharma drug. Did it work?

The most complete independent ‘Cochrane’ analysis of all trials showed that oseltamivir reduced duration of infection by 13%, from 6.7 days to 5.8 days but made no difference to hospitalisations.12 Equally poor results have been reported with other anti-virals such as zanamivir reducing infection duration by 10%. There are, however, also concerns about adverse effects.

According to a British Medical Journal report ‘oseltamivir causes nausea and vomiting and increases the risk of headaches, renal and psychiatric syndromes.’ One study reported that more than half of children who had taken Tamiflu suffered from nausea, nightmares and other reactions.13

Apart from being relatively ineffective, and less effective than vitamin C, with significantly more adverse effects, Tamiflu has been mired in controversy due to the manufacturer’s refusal to publish details of such adverse effects. The British Medical Journal (BMJ) went to town on this and finally forced release of the compromising trial data, four years later.

The Journal’s report on the Tamiflu campaign illustrates just how lacking in transparency both the drug companies and the bodies supposed to regulate them are. It discovered the following:

“The World Health Authority (WHO) was recommending Tamiflu but had not vetted the underlying data.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved Tamiflu, but had not vetted the underlying data. The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) was encouraging its use and the stockpiling ofTamiflu on the basis of the 6-page manufacturer funded pooled analysis of 10 clinical trials, but had not vetted the underlying data.

CDC’s promotion occurred despite the fact that, since 2000, FDA, which had vetted the underlying data, required Roche to add a statement to Tamiflu’s product labeling: “Serious bacterial infections may begin with influenza-like symptoms or may coexist with or occur as complications during the course of influenza. Tamiflu has not been shown to prevent such complications.” The majority of Roche's Phase III treatment trials were unpublished a decade after completion. The above facts all remain true today (as of February 2019).”

Given the high risk of adverse effects plus the low level of effectiveness, one would have to conclude that these earlier anti-viral drugs failed or were, at least, less effective than either vitamin C or ivermectin, failings which were largely or totally ignored by the drug watchdogs.

Even more worrying is that it seems these lessons have still not been learnt. The lack of transparency over trial data is still a major issue and authorities are neither insisting on disclosure of the full trial data, nor on companies sharing it with independent researchers. The then independent Cochrane Collaboration, whose final analysis of the drug trial data on Tamiflu was key to revealing its unpublished shortcomings, is itself embroiled in controversy, following the sacking of founding member Peter Gotzsche who has described the pharma industry as “organised crime.” Like so many medical journals it is strongly influenced by pharma interests.

Reducing duration and severity of infection

While Ivermectin, vitamin D and even vitamin C to some extent can be taken in advance to reduce the risk of infection, the main criteria for success of any anti-viral agent is to what extent it reduces duration and severity of infection if taken as soon as you are infected. By reducing duration and/or severity it is rightly assumed you’ll lower the total viral load, which means fewer dead virus particles, which is what the immune system attacks causing a massive inflammatory over-reaction known as a cytokine storm. This is what initiates sepsis and organ failure resulting in death. So, if you reduce duration and severity it is hoped that you’ll reduce risk of severe covid, hence hospitalisations and deaths. These factors will be a main yardsticks to gauge how well anti-viral drugs and nutrients work.

Given this measuring stick it’s worth understanding how you measure ‘duration’ and ‘severity’. Some studies define duration as a reduction of symptoms by 50%, others use the complete resolution of symptoms. Severity is often defined as the number of incapacitated days – ones when you couldn’t go to work. This is more informative in cold studies than covid studies, in which everyone is encouraged to self-isolate, hence not go to work or work from home.

The last placebo-controlled trial of vitamin C for colds in the UK back in 2002 - found it was effective at cutting the number of colds and the severity of infections, even though common medical wisdom is that it is not effective. This trial comprised 168 volunteers who were randomised to receive a placebo or vitamin C (2 x 500 mg daily) over a 60-day winter period. The vitamin C group had fewer colds (37 vs 50) and even fewer virally challenged ‘cold’ days (85 vs 178) and a shorter duration of severe symptom days (1.8 vs 3.1 days, p = 0.03). The number of participants who had two colds during the trial was significantly reduced (2/84 on vitamin C vs 16/84 in the placebo group).14

The first trial on covid infected people given vitamin C, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), gave 8 grams not from first day on infection but from first or second day on visiting an outpatient unit and testing PCR positive. They reported an 18% reduction in duration, representing a reduction from 6.7 days in those not taking vitamin C to 5.5 days for those taking vitamin C.

This was a 70% improved recovery rate, however it was not disclosed in the JAMA paper but teased out by independent analysis by professor of public health Dr Harri Hemila from the University of Helsinki. For those with longer infection, the vitamin C reduced duration by 30%, from 9 days to 6 days.15

These results could have been much better if vitamin C was given on the first day of symptoms. Most vitamin C trials giving 6 to 8 grams in the first day of a respiratory infection report a 20% reduction in duration. That means a 5-day infection reduces to 4 days. One trial giving 8 grams reported that 46% became symptom-free within 24 hours. The more you give and the sooner you give it after infection, the better the results.

I asked the JAMA study author, Dr Milind Desai about the number of days that infection had occurred prior to starting vitamin C. He told me “How many days they were symptomatic [prior to treatment] was recorded but obviously difficult to ascertain. This data is not available.” I’m not sure why it is difficult to ascertain, or unavailable, because all results in this trial were based on self-reports and asking when your symptoms start is a basic question in any medical examination and duly recorded, as he stated it was.

Also, since only those testing PCR positive were included, , one imagines there is some delay in getting symptoms, getting PCR tested, then getting started on this trial which the author said happened “on or around the first day of presentation to the outpatient setting.” Given that the importance of the timing of any medication in a disease cycle, this should have been reported or, at least, listed as a weakness in the study. Starting vitamin C supplementation earlier in the disease cycle would be expected to improve the effectiveness. This is another example of non-disclosure of trial data.

Even worse was the fact that JAMA, a notorious ‘anti-vitamin’ journal, blocked several well-founded critiques of the study from leading professors, including Professor Hemila, which would normally be published following a study. One told me ‘I have not submitted a comment as I would be 100% certain it would be rejected.’

Unfortunately, there are no trials giving 1 gram an hour upon infection which is what I’ve observed to give the best results, do myself and recommend you do.

UK research for anti-virals

The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in his statement on anti-virals, referred to the Government’s Therapeutics Taskforce set up ‘to search for the most promising new medicines to be made safely and rapidly available.’

I’ve been in touch with the Therapeutics Taskforce and given them all the existing evidence showing that vitamin C, which is both safe and rapidly available, so it ticks all the right boxes.

Johnson had said: “we hope to lengthen the UK’s lead in medicines”, which is unlikely since China first started using vitamin C in covid patients in Wuhan in February last year (together with lockdown and track & trace) and effectively eliminated the viral spread. The Zhongnan University Hospital ICU in Wuhan has not had a critical case of covid since last May, Professor Zhiyong Peng told me in December.

So, what are we waiting for? The UK Taskforce apparently likes to do its own research, not rely on others, but has none planned for vitamin C or ivermectin for reducing duration of early infection. (There is a ‘REMAP-CAP’ trial planned for intravenous vitamin C given to critically ill covid patients, but this hasn’t started yet.) At least forewarned is forearmed as I expect we are going to see the same shenanigans we saw with Tamiflu all over again – and the same ignoring of non--profitable solutions such as vitamin C and ivermectin already on the table.

IVERMECTIN – WHY IS IT NOT BEING USED FOR COVID PREVENTION?

A Panel of leading medical experts concludes that ivermectin should be systematically and globally adopted for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Together with appropriate use of vitamin D and C I believe we can end the pandemic now.

Peer reviewed by medical experts that included three US government senior scientists and published in the American Journal of Therapeutics, the research review released this month is the most comprehensive review of the available data taken from clinical, in vitro (cell), animal, and real-world studies. Led by the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), a group of medical and scientific experts reviewed published peer-reviewed studies, manuscripts, expert meta-analyses, and epidemiological analyses of regions where ivermectin has been widely distributed all showing that ivermectin is an effective both for prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

“We did the work that the medical authorities failed to do, we conducted the most comprehensive review of the available data on ivermectin,” said Dr Pierre Kory, president and chief medical officer of the FLCCC. “We applied the gold standard to qualify the data reviewed before concluding that ivermectin can end this pandemic.”

A focus of the manuscript was on the 27 controlled trials available in January 2021, 15 of which were randomized controlled trials (RCT’s), the preferred trial of the World Health Organization, U.S. National Institutes of Health, and the European Medicines Agency. Consistent with numerous meta-analyses of ivermectin RCT’s since published by expert panels from the UK, Italy, Spain, and Japan, they found large, statistically significant reduction in mortality, time to recovery and viral clearance in COVID-19 patients treated with ivermectin.

To evaluate the efficacy of ivermectin in preventing COVID-19, 3 RCT’s and 5 observational controlled trial’s including almost 2,500 patients all reported that ivermectin significantly reduces the risk of contracting COVID-19 when used regularly.

Many regions around the world now recognize that ivermectin is a powerful for and treatment for COVID-19. South Africa, Zimbabwe, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Mexico, and now, India, have approved the drug for use by medical professionals. The results as seen in this latest study demonstrate that the ivermectin distribution campaigns repeatedly led to “rapid population-wide decreases in morbidity and mortality.” UK GPs, however, are still not allowed to prescribe ivermectin.

“Our latest research shows, once again, that when the totality of the evidence is examined, there is no doubt that ivermectin is highly effective as a safe prophylaxis and treatment for COVID-19,” said Professor Paul Marik MD, founding member of the FLCCC and Chief, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School. “We can no longer rely on many of the larger health authorities to make an honest examination of the medical and scientific evidence. So, we are calling on regional public health authorities and medical professionals around the world to demand that ivermectin be included in their standard of care right away so we can end this pandemic once and for all.”

The published research can be found in the latest edition of the American Journal of Therapeutics.

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