COVID-19
A vial of vet ivermectin held at Johannesburg Airport in South Africa.

Customs officials at South Africa’s main international airport have confiscated hundreds of quantities of a drug that some claim is a “miracle” treatment for COVID-19, police said Saturday.

And the South African police announced in a statement that “the drugs suspected to be ivermectin,” worth 6 million rands, about 400 thousand dollars, were confiscated at Johannesburg or Tambo International Airport during the past two weeks.

The statement stated that six suspected drug smugglers were arrested and charged with carrying unregistered drugs and importing them without a license. He added that the drugs “are believed to have been imported for the purpose of selling and would have been used in the treatment of Covid-19.”

Ivermectin is an anti-parasite drug that some claim is a potential treatment for Coronavirus, which has led to an increased demand for it, although studies confirm that there is insufficient evidence to promote it as a treatment for Covid-19.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority this week approved in principle the use of ivermectin, but under supervision, and canceled a decision in December to prevent its import because it is not produced locally.

The ban on the import of ivermectin has angered doctors, who are pushing for more research into it, and it has also caused secret trade to flourish.

The drug is mainly used to kill parasites such as lice in animals and humans, and has been widely distributed since the 1990s in sub-Saharan Africa to treat “onchocerciasis” or “river blindness”.

The drug is normally registered for veterinary use in South Africa, but its use by humans has not been banned.

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