With a ten-fold rise in Covid-19 infections over the last month, the Goa government on Monday announced that it will be starting prophylaxis treatment by administering Ivermectin to all above the age of 18 years in the state, irrespective of Covid-19 symptoms. The government’s decision to administer the anthelmintic drug to the entire population comes at a time its vaccination program for the 18-44 age group is yet to take off and is expected to start only by the third week of May.
Health minister Vishwajit Rane said that Goa would be the first state in the country to administer Ivermectin to its adult citizens as a step towards protecting lives. “There have been studies in journals of therapeutics, there have been studies in the US, UK, Japan, Germany that when this (Ivermectin) is administered in advance, when the entire population is administered this treatment, their mortality rate fell and effects of Covid-19 on that individual were also less (sic). All our doctors and experts, the chief minister have unanimously decided to go ahead with this….We should go ahead and give it to the population. It’s a must,” Rane said.
The minister said that Ivermectin 12 mg will be given to those above 18 years for five days. The tablet will be made available at all the district, sub-district, primary health centres, community health centres, sub-health centres and the Goa Medical College so that people can collect the medication and start the treatment, “irrespective of symptoms or anything”, Rane said.
“Expert panels from UK, Italy, Spain and Japan, found a large, statistically significant reduction in mortality, time to recovery and viral clearance in Covid-19 patients treated with Ivermectin,” he tweeted.
Rane said the Goa government had to resort to “innovative methods” to save lives. “Goa is the first state to take such a step. If it is found to be effective on 18 and above then we may consider administering it to those above the age of ten later,” said Rane.
The minister said that the government had decided to take this step as Covid-19 cases in the state were yet to plateau. On Monday, the total number of active cases in the state was 32,262 of which 2,804 were new. Fifty deaths were reported in the 24 hours preceding Monday and the positivity rate was 45 per cent.
On Sunday health secretary Ravi Dhawan said, “The government has placed an order for 5 lakh doses with Serum Institute of India (SII) for Covishield. So far, SII has issued an invoice to us for 32,870 doses. We have paid them full advance but SII has told us and the Government of India (GoI) has also told us that because of prior commitments with GoI, so far, the SII is not able to supply us (the vaccine) at least till the third week of May.”
Dr S M Bandekar, Dean, Goa Medical College and Hospital, said that the tablet may be distributed through some organisations to people who do not collect it from hospitals or health centres. He said that the tablet should be administered to even those who do not get tested for Covid-19 and it should be made “compulsory”. “Those who are not vaccinated should take it even more seriously,” said Bandekar.
Bandekar said that Ivermectin, that curtails lung involvement in the event of Covid-19 infection, was safe even for those with comorbidities. Pregnant and lactating women, who are not prescribed any medication including paracetamol, should, however, not take it, Bandekar said.
Rane said that Ivermectin was recognised by the Indian Council for Medical Research and it was already a part of home isolation kits handed out to Covid-19 patients by the Goa government along with Doxycycline and Paracetamol.
Rane, however, cautioned, “This does not prevent Covid-19 infection but helps in reducing severity of the disease and at the same time one should not have a false sense of security and complacency but strictly take all the precautionary measures and follow laid SOPs.”