On Wednesday, the chief of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority said that ivermectin, which is used to treat parasites in humans and livestock, will be allowed for use on compassionate grounds in a controlled-access programme. Zimbabwe is, meanwhile, reported to have approved the parasite drug for COVID-19 treatment.
"Currently, there is insufficient evidence to recommend ivermectin for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19. Some studies have suggested that ivermectin may be of benefit of management of COVID-19, however the evidence that is currently available is preliminary and of low quality", the South African Health Department said on Thursday.
According to the press release, the existing studies vary widely in terms of the severity of the disease in participants and medicines with which ivermectin was compared or combined.
The department stressed that a special COVID-19 drug task force will continue to review and amend recommendations as new data becomes available.
"In the meantime, we discourage the use of ivermectin outside of well-conducted randomised controlled trials", the department added.
With over 1.4 million confirmed cases, South Africa has the highest COVID-19 tally on the continent.