No plans for ivermectin COVID-19 treatment

Staff Reporter

The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS) has no plans to use the ivermectin drug, stating that there is not enough evidence to its effectiveness.

The drug was approved for limited use by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, and by the Zimbabwean government.

“In Namibia it is not registered for human use. There is always excitement when any drug is believed to be beneficial in treating COVID-19. We are familiar with the history of hydroxychloroquine. There was hype about it and many others and Ivermectin is just joining the long list of those types of medicines,” said Health Minister, Kalumbi Shangula.

According to the Namibia Medicine Regulatory Council (NMRC), invermectin is a broad spectrum anti-parasitic agent for both human and veterinary use. In humans, it is used to treat a number of tropical diseases, such as onchocerciasis and strongyloidiasis as well as in treating lice and scabies.It is widely used to treat and control parasites in animals.

The Minister further said the government would continue to monitor the effectiveness of the drug moving forward. “The World Health Organization (WHO) supported the stand of Namibia that so far there is not enough evidence to say conclusively that Ivermectin is a drug against COVID-19.There are still works going on to establish whether in deed it the future it can be used against COVID-19 but at the moment there isn’t enough evidence to support it.”

The Minister’s comments come after government has spent over N$3 million on remdesivir, a drug intended to treat critical COVID-19 patients. The drug was later found to be ineffective and its use in the country was discontinued. “The NMRC prohibits the compounding of invermectin as an IMP for COVID-19 infection. In addition, the Council warns against use of veterinary formulations invermectin in humans as their safety and effectiveness has only been evaluated in the particular animal species for which they are labelled,” Registrar of Medicines, Johannes #Gaeseb stated last month.

Meanwhile government has extended regulations currently in place to control the spread of COVID-19 to 24 February.

While a number of the regulations have remained as they previously were, the curfew, which has started daily at 21h00 has been extended to 22h00 to 05h00.

“Cabinet has begun working to ensure that the most vulnerable citizens will soon get access to much-needed and sought-after vaccines, beginning with frontline workers and our most vulnerable citizens. Namibia is a member of the COVAX facility and we have further approached friendly countries to support our efforts to access reliable and affordable vaccines,” Namibian President, Hage Geingob said.

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