TOKYO -- The Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to conduct clinical trials of the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin at metropolitan and public hospitals to assess its effectiveness against COVID-19, Nikkei has learned.

Clinical trials will be conducted on patients with mild symptoms. Patients who are hospitalized mostly have moderate or serious symptoms. The metropolitan government will finalize the details of the study, including the size and duration of clinical trials, after the infection situation settles down.

The Tokyo government hopes to support the trials using some beds at metropolitan and public hospitals. Ivermectin will be given to patients with mild symptoms, comparing their response with those receiving a placebo.

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Experiments with cells have shown that Ivermectin is effective in inhibiting the growth of COVID-19.

If Iivermectin, which comes in tablet form and is easy to handle, is confirmed to be effective, it is expected to be used for home-care patients, whose numbers are rising as hospital beds fill up in Tokyo.

Kitasato University Hospital began clinical trials of Ivermectin last September. The hospital announced that it will administer the drug to 240 patients by the end of March to see if it shortens the time required for patients to test negative in polymerase chain reaction tests.

Clinical trials of Ivermectin have been carried out for treatment and prevention purposes in such countries as Japan, the U.S. and India.

Ivermectin was developed by Kitasato University professor emeritus Satoshi Omura, for which he won the 2015 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. The drug has proved effective in eradicating parasitic infections in Africa and other regions. It has been given to billions of people and no serious adverse effects have been reported.