Sunday Mail Reporter
Local scientists are currently studying the effectiveness of Ivermectin — a broad spectrum anti-parasitic agent — as a therapeutic for Covid-19 patients. The use of the drug to treat Covid-19 has divided opinion.
National co-ordinator of the Ivermectin research team, Dr Pisirayi Ndarukwa, who is an honorary research fellow with the University of KwaZulu Natal College of Health Sciences, said his team’s research will conclusively ascertain the efficacy and safety of the drug.
“Ivermectin has been a subject of debate in Zimbabwe for a long time,” said Dr Ndarukwa.
“As researchers we felt it prudent that we play our part in seeking evidence on whether or not it works.”
The research team comprises experts in microbiology and medicine, including Professor Exnevia Gomo; Professor Elopy Sibanda; Dr Tafadzwa Mutizwa; Professor Collins Masimirembwa, who is a top biomedical pharmacologist; Dr Ingrid Landman; Professor Moses Chimbari; and Dr Lazarus Gonde.
“The research will take two forms: Firstly, it will be retrospective in that we know there are doctors who have been treating their patients using Ivermectin and we want to analyse their data.
“The dosages they have been giving, the mortality rate among their patients and how they have recovered.
“We are also going to be observing its use since it has been cleared for solidarity trial use, to learn from the data and make a determination on its effectiveness,” he said.
Last week, the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) authorised the importation and dispensing of Ivermectin under strict conditions. The authorisation will allow for the collation of data for the research.
Dr Ndarukwa said the research will be concluded within four months before the findings are submitted to the Ministry of Health and Child Care. MCAZ public relations officer Mr Shingai Gwatidzo said they were waiting for the research team to approach the regulator.
“The authority is not aware of such a group and, therefore, awaits submission of an application from the researchers who wish to use Ivermectin for management of Covid-19.
“The authority recently issued a statement advising practitioners, researchers and healthcare professionals to submit proposals to use Ivermectin within the operational research framework.
“This is to allow gathering of the much-needed scientific data on efficacy and safety within our Zimbabwean population.
“As it stands, globally there is still no conclusive evidence supporting its use for treatment and prevention of Covid-19, so this is an opportunity to gather that data within a controlled setting.”