Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire scientist community across the globe is racing to find a cure for it. Recently Australian scientists have successfully been able to kill the COVID-19 virus using a very common and inexpensive drug that is used to get rid of the head lice. The experiment was carried in a petri dish by scientists at the Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University, Melbourne. Dr Kylie Wagstaff carried out the study and found that when Ivermectin was added to the petri dish of the COVID-19 virus, it started to kill the SARS-COV-2 cells in a matter of just 24 hours. The next 24 hours saw that the replication of the virus had stopped within the cells. This comes as a huge win, given the widespread panic that is in the world right now.
To spread the word faster and help other countries also carry out similar testing, the study has been published in an online journal of Antiviral Research. It is presumed that since the medicine is already safe for humans for treatments of parasites like head lice, scabies, and river blindness, it will be much easier to begin human clinical trials to check its effectivity and determine the right dosage.
Dr Wagstaff says they still have to test the drug levels that can be used on humans to completely kill the COVID-19 virus. This will take at least a month before they can begin human clinical trials on COVID-19 patients. She is hopeful that at a time when there is no approved way of treatment for COVID-19 if a discovery is made where a widely available drug is effective in the treatment, it will benefit the countries immensely.
The team conducting the study is applying for funds to begin a human clinical trial. It would still take some time before conclusive results can be achieved, and scientists begin to produce the vaccination for distribution in the market. It is a joint effort by teams from the University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital. The teams are from Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) along with the Peter Doherty Institute of Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute).
Dr Wagstaff stresses the fact that there has to be significant study and tests to safely say that this is a cure for the coronavirus. Right now, it is only a possibility, and she fears that the need of the hour may overshadow the need for proper testing before certifying it as a cure.
Dr Wagstaff has been studying the capabilities of the said drug for years, and it has provided breakthrough results on HIV, Influenza, Zika virus and more. Ivermectin is on the list of essential medicines issued by WHO. Her past studies show immense promise at this point, and her team is constantly conducting lab tests to get closer to finding a cure for the coronavirus. Her team at the Doherty Institute was the first institute to grow the virus outside China.