COVID Variants- all our eggs in the vaccine basket
Dear Public Health and Political Leaders:
According to the news, you have all recognized the threat presented by new variants of the SARS-CoV2 virus. The most widely recognized risk is its apparently increased transmissibility; the discussion of this aspect by medical and political leaders is commendable. Nevertheless the possibility that we could be faced with variants that are resistant to antibodies generated by vaccines or the natural disease is now becoming recognized. See “Fast-spreading COVID variant can elude immune responses” in https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00121-z. If this fear becomes a reality, it has the potential to become another pandemic, and could require a new set of vaccines, which would take significant time to create. If we are lucky, one or more of the many current vaccines in development or recently approved will be effective against all the new variants making further vaccines unnecessary. Time will tell.
In the meantime, let’s not put all our eggs in one basket. Let’s invest some time and effort considering drugs that could be used as COVID prophylaxis; one strategy could be re-purposing established drugs. For now there is at least one older drug that could fill this void; it is ivermectin, a well-established anti-parasitic agent that was at the centre of a Nobel Prize in 2015. Many papers have described ivermectin’s potential in this respect. A key source of information is the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) an international team of experts (USA, Norway and UK) who have reviewed as much information as possible in order to develop prophylactic and curative treatments for COVID-19, https://covid19criticalcare.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/FLCCC-Ivermectin-in-the-prophylaxis-and-treatment-of-COVID-19.pdf. Their summary shows that ivermectin appears capable of reducing and sometimes eliminating the spread of COVID-19. I have written a shorter but amateur blog with the same intent for friends and family https://vitamindcovid.blogspot.com/2021/01/ivermectin-and-covid-19-introduction.html. Please see Carvallo et al (Journal of Biomedical Research and Clinical Investigation) describing a comparison of 788 health care workers who received IVERCAR (ivermectin treatment) with 407 of their co-worker controls. After 60 days, none (0%) of the treated group tested positive for COVID-19 while the infection rate in the controls was 58.2% (237 of 407). After decades of use against parasites and months against COVID-19, the consensus is that ivermectin has an acceptable safety profile. I appreciate that you leaders are gun-shy of advocating the use of a drug that is not approved, so let’s take a more measured approach- run some tests.
What do I ask of you? Please initiate, facilitate or support a trial of ivermectin to inhibit transmission of the current variants of COVID. Please do it now. Given the higher prevalence in the Toronto area, this could be good target region. Based on the worst projections for March by some models, there isn’t time to conduct long-term, double blind, placebo controlled trials. Ethically, we should proceed by offering ivermectin prophylaxis to key groups who are at higher risk and/or likely to spread COVID; these might be transit workers and the retail sector. Public health data should guide us. As ivermectin can be taken as oral tablets, the technical challenges would not be monumental; with increasing acceptance internationally, drug shortage could be the main challenge. By employing ivermectin in addition to vaccines, the number of new variants should be reduced; let’s hope that it is enough to obviate a second pandemic. As ivermectin works against viruses by its actions in the host, resistance to vaccines will not mean resistance to ivermectin. If I can help in any way, I would be pleased to volunteer.
Thank you for your consideration,
but also Professor Emeritus Queen’s University Pharmacology
10 Holland Crescent, Kingston, ON K7M2V8 613-546-6296 Amended 2021 February 02