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[Newsmaker] Ivermectin latest drug candidate for coronavirus

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)
Ivermectin, a parasiticide, could be the next breakthrough solution to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to initial reports, but further tests must prove the efficacy of the drug in living organisms, experts say.

Ivermectin became the center of attention after scientists from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia found that a single dose of the parasiticide could stop the replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus growing in a cell culture.

Ivermectin effectively eradicated all genetic material of the virus within 48 hours, according to these scientists’ article published Friday in the latest issue of Antiviral Research.

In regards to the latest attention on ivermectin, Jeon Byung-ryul, former head of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a local radio interview Monday that the in vitro efficacy of ivermectin does not prove its efficacy in vivo -- in living organisms -- and that it is premature to label the parasiticide a magic bullet.

Currently, the only company that carries ivermectin tablets in Korea is Shin Poong Pharm, whose stock price had already risen the daily maximum growth rate of 29.87 percent on Korea’s main bourse Kospi, as of 2 p.m., Monday.

Ivermectin is widely available due to its inclusion on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines. It is approved by the US’ Food and Drug Administration to treat parasitic infections, and has the potential to be repurposed to treat COVID-19, scientists said.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (kaylalim@heraldcorp.com)
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