Zimbabwe has approved the use and import of the anti-parasite drug Ivermectin to treat COVID-19 patients.
“In these difficult times of COVID-19 treatment, we have to be careful to protect patients as well as not to deny them effective treatment regimes,” said a statement by the Health Ministry addressed to the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ).
“It is in this regard, the authority is hereby granted for you to proceed to allow importation and use of these medicines under the supervision and guidance you outlined. Ivermectin can be evaluated for both treatment and prophylaxis,” the ministry said.
This ministry’s decision comes a few days after the deaths of three cabinet ministers and several top government officials from COVID-19 in a short period of time.
Owing to the fact that Ivermectin was not registered for use in Zimbabwe, COVID-19 patients ended up using the Ivermectin product meant for animals.
While some revealed that the animal drug worked for them, the government warned that it causes serious side effects in humans.
A veterinary expert who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed the covert use of Ivermectin by COVID-19 patients and that one 5 millimeter shot was selling for US$5 (1,809 Zimbabwe dollars).
Two weeks ago, the medicines control body threatened to arrest anyone found to be administering Ivermectin to humans. MCAZ Director General Richard Rukwata was quoted in the local media expressing concern that the animal drug was not registered.
Zimbabwe has to date recorded 32,304 COVID-19 cases, including 1,122 deaths and 23,687 recoveries, according to the Ministry of Health.