A Common Drug Used Against Head Lice Was Found to Have Killed COVID-19 in a Lab

IMAGE FLICKR/Governor Tom Wolf (CC BY 2.0)

Australian scientists have found a potential treatment for the coronavirus in a drug often used to treat head lice and scabies. 

News.com.au reports that a single dose of the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin stops the SARS-COV-2 virus growing in cell culture.

“We found that even a single dose could essentially remove all viral RNA (effectively removed all genetic material of the virus) by 48 hours and that even at 24 hours there was a really significant reduction in it,” the news agency quoted Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute’s Dr Kylie Wagstaff on Friday.

The treatment was the result of a collaborative study between Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute and the Doherty Institute.

Ivermectin is a popular treatment for parasitic infestations and is available as a pill, lotion of shampoo.

Officials said the next step is to figure out a safe dosage for humans.

Although initial lab results look promising, a working vaccine may take time. Funding is needed to get it to pre-clinical testing and clinical trials.

“Realistically it’s going to be a while before a vaccine is broadly available,” Dr. Wagstaff said.

Australian health authorities have also warned people against self-medicating with Ivermectin, saying people might misuse the drug.

"There is no reason to be buying lice treatment unless you're going to be using it on your children's hair," said Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos, who was quoted in an ABC News Australia report. "I just want to stress that because we've heard about people overseas who have heard about potential developments and then have ingested drugs that have been used in a completely inappropriate way and have died as a result. I don't want to see people rushing out to their pharmacies or their supermarkets buying lice treatments now because scientists are doing this work.”


The findings of the study were published in the journal Antiviral Research.

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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