The South African Health Products Council (SAHPRA) has announced that it will allow the use of Ivermectin in controlled compassionate circumstances to treat COVID-19. SAHPRA says it will facilitate an access programme for the drug, known to be used in the treatment of parasites in animals.

The council says it will announce guidelines in the next few days. Ivermectin is not authorised for human use in South Africa, but some medical practitioners have been calling for it to be used for the treatment of COVID-19.

SAHPRA’s Dr Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela says there is still a lack of scientific proof on Ivermectin, but that the regulator is on track in assessing its safety.

“So, colleagues what you will note is that as a regulator we are saying we have heard you. We are putting in this a compassionate access programme that will be controlled. We will communicate in the next day or so with very clear guidelines in terms of what is controlled going to look like and again we’ve considered the risk-benefit of having this product available.”

Some medical practitioners want the drug approved to treat COVID-19:

This comes as the country gets ready to receive 1.5  million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from  India’s Serum Institute at the end of January.  Yesterday, the Co-Chair of the COVID-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, said the vaccine will be administered free of charge.

Karim says the country is progressing past the peak of the second wave of infections, which now seems to be on a downward trend. He says funding for the vaccines will come from the Treasury and various medical aid schemes.

“The vaccines that are being purchased for COVID-19, they are being purchased centrally by the government. The vaccines, as far as I understand, are being provided free to anyone who is being vaccinated. The actual funding is coming from the Treasury and the medical aids are also contributing to the cost, but to the person receiving it, there is no cost at all.”

Below are some facts about Ivermectin: