While welcomed, news of the trial also met with caution given potential ethical concerns associated with trial design.
Over the weekend, FARMOVS, the clinical research company wholly owned by the University of the Free State announced it was preparing to conduct a randomized clinical trial to determine the efficacy of the much-talked about ivermectin as possible treatment for Covid-19. As the country remains in lockdown to contain a surge driven by a new and more infectious variant of the virus, ivermectin has dominated headlines in recent weeks as a possible miracle solution to help combat the virus that has crippled the country. With reported deaths over 40,000, South African authorities are racing to secure batches of already available vaccines amid a backlash that they were to act.
The FARMOVS announcement was welcomed by Doctors in the Ivermectin Interest Group, though the group also flagged possible ethical concerns pertaining to the double-blind nature of the trial, as this could lead to a considerable number of people possibly dying to confirm what was “most likely to become a known fact". The news of the trial also follow the publication of guidance on the use of the drug in humans by the South African Health Products Authority which indicated that while several trials have been undertaken to evaluate ivermectin’s efficacy in treating the Covid-19 infection, no results are currently available to support such use in humans.