Goa govt defends use of Ivermectin for preventive Covid treatment


The World Health Organisation’s assessment of the drug Ivermectin and its use in Covid treatment could be erroneous, the Goa government told the Bombay High Court on Friday, while defending the use of the drug as for prophylaxis treatment.

In an affidavit, state’s Joint Secretary of Health Vikas Gaunekar said that the studies conducted in different countries have shown positive effect vis- a-vis treatment and cure of patients.

“Various studies conducted in different countries have shown that the medicine has a positive effect on prevention and treatment/cure of patients. I say that the studies and reports are available on the website ivmmeta.com…” the official said.

“There are some reports which have found that the analysis by WHO on this medicine is flawed and that the mortality rate is actually much lower if the said medicine is used for early treatment as well as prophylaxis,” Gaunekar said before the Court.”

The government was responding to a bunch of petitions filed before High Court’s Panaji bench, which have questioned several aspects of the Covid management mechanisms, one of which was the decision of the state government to advocate Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug as a preventive treatment for Covid.

The Court had directed the government to spell out its position on the drug and its distribution in Goa as part of prophylaxis treatment.

According to a decision taken earlier this month by the state government’s experts committee, Ivermectin tablets are to be distributed free of cost to all major citizens in the state through its public health centre network.

Incidentally, a day after the Goa government’s decision to recommend Ivermectin in its preventive treatment protocol WHO’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan had tweeted saying: “Safety and efficacy are important when using any drug for a new indication. @WHO recommends against the use of Ivermectin for #COVID19 except within clinical trials”.

The Opposition has also accused the Goa government of “playing with people’s lives” by recommending the drug, which has not been endorsed by WHO.

Gaunekar told the Court that the very issue was discussed by the state expert committee on May 13.

“This aspect was discussed by the State Expert Committee for Covid in the meeting held on May 13 under the chairmanship of the Health Minister (and) also comprising different expert doctors from government and private institutions,” the Health Ministry official said.

“I say that after deliberations, it was recommended to use the said medicine once daily for five days to the population over 18 years. However, pregnant/lactating women, as well as those persons with allergy and those having liver/kidney are advised to consult a doctor before taking the medicine,” he further said.