A few days ago, the following report caused an uproar on social networks: In Upper Austria, there were mass purchases of the worm Ivermectin, according to Tagesschau, among others. At least one case ended to death. It is said that the drug is useful against corona infection.
In order to find out how effective or dangerous this type of treatment is, ka-news.de decided to ask several medical professionals what ivermectin actually has and what uses it can offer in this regard.
horse worm ivermectin
“Ivermectin is commonly used in horses to eliminate parasites such as roundworms,” says Elke gingersen, a practicing veterinarian in Karlsruhe who specializes in equine medicine. “Strictly speaking, it’s a neurotoxin that parasites absorb through so-called chloride channels, causing contractions and complete paralysis, which means the worms gradually die of starvation,” says Jernsen.
The vet explains, “However, mammals do not have the same chloride channels that invertebrates do. As a result, ivermectin is not toxic to horses, but also to humans, but it has a medicinal benefit.” This was also confirmed by Dr. Michael Fiabiano, medical officer at the Baden-Württemberg Association of statutory health insurance physicians.
“The active ingredient is well tolerated, but…”
“The active ingredient ivermectin is generally well tolerated,” Fiabiano explains. “Therefore, it is also approved in humans as an active ingredient against worms and parasites.” However, this does not mean that it should be taken as desired and without medical advice. “Let’s say someone buys a preparation for horses instead of humans through an online portal,” says veterinarian Gingersen. “That could lead to some side effects.”
Physician Fiabiano describes these side effects as “fatigue, abdominal pain, decreased appetite, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, itching or hives.” If taken uncontrolled, even with “serious symptoms of poisoning that can lead to asthma attacks or an increase in liver values.”
ivermectin against corona virus?
But even at a reasonable dose, the effect is almost exclusively limited to the fight against parasites. “You only get deworming when you take it,” Gingerson summarizes.
The origin of the assumption that horseworm could be an effective treatment against coronaviruses — or viruses in general, has been explained by gingersen with several medical lab tests: “There are studies that indicate that ivermectin can have an antiviral effect,” she says.
There are no improvements from the worm
A statement also agreeing with Fiabiano: “Ivermectin showed some antiviral effects against SARS-CoV-2 in fluorescence test,” but this occurred exclusively in-vitro, “at doses higher than approved use against worms and parasites, which would be beneficial to humans” . Therefore the practical use in the human organism cannot be determined.
“University Hospital Würzburg conducted a comprehensive study, called the Cochraine Review, which showed that viral infection status did not improve significantly when the worms were taken — at least not compared to a placebo,” says Gernesen. This study prompted the European Medicines Agency to “speak out against the use of ivermectin in the Covid region,” says Fiabiano.
“Horses miss worms”
According to the doctor, the horse worm is “not expressly authorized to treat Covid 19 infection.” A case that only Jengersen considers appropriate. “In general, taking ivermectin against corona will do nothing but health risks. From this point of view, you can also save yourself.” In addition, the equine doctor also talks about a social problem related to group purchases.
“In Austria there was such a rush that ivermectin is running out. But right now, in the late fall, a lot of horses are already getting wormed — and now they’re missing the drug,” says Jernsen. Another group suffering from this trend is the single long-nosed ungulates, which may be much less protected from parasitic infestation this winter.