Japanese pharmaceuticals company says ivermectin shows ‘antiviral effect’ against Omicron

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Japan’s trading and pharmaceutical company Kowa Co Ltd said on Monday that anti-parasitic drug ivermectin has an “anti-viral” effect against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The firm has been working with Kitasato University, a medical university in Tokyo, on testing the drug as a potential Covid-19 treatment.

In a press release the company said that phase three non-clinical trial of the drug has shown anti-viral effect against Omicron as well as other coronavirus variants, reported Reuters.

The company did not, however, share any further details.

Ivermectin has been controversially touted as a potential treatment for Covid since the earliest stages of the pandemic.

The US Food and Drug Administration has warned against using it as a treatment or as a preventive measure against Covid-19.

A European Medicines Agency review in March found that “the available data do not support its use for Covid-19 outside well-designed clinical trials”.

The WHO has also warned against using “ivermectin in patients with Covid-19”.

A clinical trial is underway in the UK by the university of Oxford to test the drug’s potential in treating Covid.

Researchers told Reuters on Monday that the trial is still underway, and no comment can be issued unless the results are found.

The drug’s use has generated controversy with prominent US anti-vaxxer Joe Rogan also claiming to have used it.

His podcast on Spotify has generated protests against misinformation on the platform from artists including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.

In 2020, a peer-reviewed Australian study found that ivermectin could kill Covid in a lab, prompting some commentators to promote the drug among humans despite warnings from globally trusted public health institutions that have advised against its use for treating Covid.

Other potential Covid treatments that showed promise in labs include the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine promoted by former US president Donald Trump.

The drug ultimately failed to show benefit for Covid patients in clinical trials.

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