Journal article Open Access
Steven Chee Loon Lim; Chee Peng Hor; Kim Heng Tay; Anilawati Mat Jelani, MMed; Wen Hao Tan; Hong Bee Ker; Ting Soo Chow; Masliza Zaid; Wee Kooi Cheah; Khairil Erwan Khalid; Han Hua Lim; Joo Thye Cheng; Hazfadzila Mohd Unit; Noralfazita An; Azraai Bahari Nasruddin; Lee Lee Low; Song Weng Ryan Khoo; Jia Hui Loh; Nor Zaila Zaidan; Suhaila Ab Wahab; Li Herng Song; Hui Moon Koh; Teck Long King; Nai Ming Lai; Suresh Kumar Chidambaram; Kalaiarasu M. Peariasamy
Importance Ivermectin, an inexpensive and widely available antiparasitic drug, is prescribed to treat COVID-19. Evidence-based data to recommend either for or against the use of ivermectin are needed.
Objective To determine the efficacy of ivermectin in preventing progression to severe disease among high-risk patients with COVID-19.
Design, Setting, and Participants The Ivermectin Treatment Efficacy in COVID-19 High-Risk Patients (I-TECH) study was an open-label randomized clinical trial conducted at 20 public hospitals and a COVID-19 quarantine center in Malaysia between May 31 and October 25, 2021. Within the first week of patients’ symptom onset, the study enrolled patients 50 years and older with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, comorbidities, and mild to moderate disease.
Interventions Patients were randomized in a 1:1 ratio to receive either oral ivermectin, 0.4 mg/kg body weight daily for 5 days, plus standard of care (n = 241) or standard of care alone (n = 249). The standard of care consisted of symptomatic therapy and monitoring for signs of early deterioration based on clinical findings, laboratory test results, and chest imaging.
Main Outcomes and Measures The primary outcome was the proportion of patients who progressed to severe disease, defined as the hypoxic stage requiring supplemental oxygen to maintain pulse oximetry oxygen saturation of 95% or higher. Secondary outcomes of the trial included the rates of mechanical ventilation, intensive care unit admission, 28-day in-hospital mortality, and adverse events.
Results Among 490 patients included in the primary analysis (mean [SD] age, 62.5 [8.7] years; 267 women [54.5%]), 52 of 241 patients (21.6%) in the ivermectin group and 43 of 249 patients (17.3%) in the control group progressed to severe disease (relative risk [RR], 1.25; 95% CI, 0.87-1.80; P = .25). For all prespecified secondary outcomes, there were no significant differences between groups. Mechanical ventilation occurred in 4 (1.7%) vs 10 (4.0%) (RR, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.13-1.30; P = .17), intensive care unit admission in 6 (2.4%) vs 8 (3.2%) (RR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.27-2.20; P = .79), and 28-day in-hospital death in 3 (1.2%) vs 10 (4.0%) (RR, 0.31; 95% CI, 0.09-1.11; P = .09). The most common adverse event reported was diarrhea (14 [5.8%] in the ivermectin group and 4 [1.6%] in the control group).
Conclusions and Relevance In this randomized clinical trial of high-risk patients with mild to moderate COVID-19, ivermectin treatment during early illness did not prevent progression to severe disease. The study findings do not support the use of ivermectin for patients with COVID-19.