The World Health Organization on Tuesday recommended against the use of Ivermectin – a medicine used to treat parasitic infections – for treatment of COVID-19 patients.

“The current evidence on the use of Ivermectin to treat COVID-19 patients is inconclusive. Until more data is available, WHO recommends that the drug only be used within clinical trials…This recommendation, which applies to patients with COVID-19 of any disease severity, is now part of WHO’s guidelines on COVID-19 treatments,” the WHO website posted.

Ivermectin is a broad spectrum anti-parasitic agent, included in WHO essential medicines list for several parasitic diseases. It is used in the treatment of onchocerciasis (river blindness), strongyloidiasis and other diseases caused by soil transmitted helminthiasis. It is also used to treat scabies, the website added.

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German healthcare and life sciences giant Merck had also issued a similar warning. The  Merck statement, shared by Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the global health body’s chief scientist, said its scientists continue to “carefully examine findings of all available and emerging studies of ivermectin for treatment of COVID-19”.

The WHO warning comes amid a debate on the efficacy of the drug. Last month, the Union Health Ministry had indicated use of ‘ivermectin’ to control fever among home isolation of asymptomatic COVID cases.

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On Monday, the Goa government said that all those above 18 years of age will be given Ivermectin drug irrespective of their coronavirus disease (COVID-19) status to bring down mortality.

State health minister Vishwajit Rane on Monday said patients will be given 12mg ivermectin for a period of five days as expert panels from the UK, Italy, Spain, and Japan have found a statistically significant reduction in mortality, time to recovery, and viral clearance in COVID-19 patients treated with this medicine.

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“I have given instructions for immediate implementation of prophylaxis (action taken to prevent disease) treatment,” Rane said.