How a $2 head lice treatment could treat COVID-19 patients


Head lice treatment ivermectin combined with zinc and a cheap antibiotic should be rolled out immediately to treat COVID-19, according to the man who helped discover the cure for peptic ulcers.

Centre for Digestive Diseases Professor Thomas Borody, who is running a clinical trial of the treatment in the US, said studies in Bangladesh and China show it can cure the virus in four to six days.

Some patients in Australia are already accessing the treatment through their GPs and a handful of anaesthetists and medical specialists are using it once a week as a preventive measure.

Professor Borody is himself using a lower dose of the therapy once a week to ensure he does not catch the coronavirus.

He says Australians who test positive to the virus that causes COVID-19 should immediately be given the triple therapy, so they don't end up going to hospital.


Once a patient becomes sick enough to need hospitalisation, the medication may not work.

At this stage doctors are treating the effects of the virus - organ damage, pneumonia, cytokine storm - not the virus itself.

"An Ivermectin tablet can cost as little as $2 - which could make it by far the cheapest, safest, and fastest cure for Australians and the Australian economy," he said.

"If nothing else, make it available in aged care homes immediately. Our elderly are at the highest risk and this is a very safe option especially when we have nothing else except ventilators," he said

"Also, our frontline workers deserve more protection with a preventive medication like this, and as emergency treatment if they test positive."

News Corp reported earlier this year that Monash University scientists had found ivermectin could kill COVID-19 in test tubes within 48 hours.

Follow up trials to see whether smaller doses of the drug at levels safe to use in humans had "gone well," the university told News Corp.

The researchers are trying to establish human trials now.

Because the drug is already safely used in humans to treat parasites like head lice, River Blindness, and scabies if it is proven to work it could be quickly rolled out as a treatment.


Ivermectin shows promise in treating and preventing COVID-19. Picture Getty Images
Ivermectin shows promise in treating and preventing COVID-19. Picture Getty Images


Professor Borody said we shouldn't wait for more human clinical trials, arguing it be rolled out as an emergency care treatment right now because each of the three components had already been proven safe to use in humans.

He said the triple therapy has been trialled in 60 patients in Bangladesh and all 60 patients were cured.

And a blinded trial of the treatment in China also showed 100 per cent of patients were cured.

Professor Borody, who helped proved helicobacter bacteria was the cause of more than nine in 10 peptic ulcers, is a world renowned gut bacteria specialist.

He began the trial in the US - specifically because of the volume of people with COVID-19 - after reviewing the key antiviral scientific research literature and identified the combination of three drugs.



Originally published as How a $2 head lice treatment could treat COVID-19 patients