4
| Opinion |

10 Fun Facts About Ivermectin, the COVID “Wonder Drug”

Let's learn about ivermectin!EXPAND
Let's learn about ivermectin!
^
Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Ivermectin has been touted as the miracle cure to COVID-19 that is being actively suppressed by Big Pharma and the world’s governments. It’s become particularly popular with people who are against efforts to vaccinate the population against coronavirus. But what exactly is ivermectin? Let’s learn some fun facts together!

10. Ivermectin is Commonly Prescribed Human Medicine

Overly enthusiastic supporters of ivermectin want you to know that it is already a medicine that is approved and used worldwide! It’s used by doctors to treat certain parasites and occasionally headlice. There has been some evidence that it might possibly be helpful as an anti-viral agent, particularly against Dengue fever. However, more studies need to be conducted before this can be confirmed. It kills viruses in lab cultures, but then again so will a flamethrower. Taken under a doctor’s care, ivermectin is perfectly safe.

9. But it IS a Horse Dewormer

Ivermectin is also popularly prescribed to rid pets and livestock from parasites, and here is where one of the many problems with the growing population of ivermectin supporters and vaccine deniers comes in. Irresponsible touting of the drug on social media as a miracle that cures or prevents COVID has led to people buying animal medicine off the shelves of feed stores and using it on themselves. Taking medicine intended for an animal ten times the size of a human is obviously dangerous, not to mention the fact that animal medicine often contains ingredients with effects that haven’t been studied on people. This is why the Food and Drug Administration warns that using ivermectin without a doctor’s guidance can lead to nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, allergic reactions, seizures, coma and death.

8. Ivermectin Has Been Promoted by the Senate’s Most Scientifically Illiterate Member

The possible use of the drug entered the public mind when Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) invited Dr. Pierre Kory to testify in front of the Senate. The footage from that event went viral, but it’s worth remembering that Johnson is, frankly, a scientific dumbass. Johnson has a long history of impeding progress in the fight against COVID, such as downplaying its severity when it would go on to kill millions worldwide, disputing the effectiveness of masking, and supporting the use of hydroxychloroquine. Basically, every time a question of what to do about coronavirus has come up, Johnson has advocated the opposite of what is an evidence-based idea. In this case, he’s given ivermectin’s biggest cheerleader a platform that has grown into a minor media phenomenon.

7. Pierre Kory is Not Doing Very Good Science

The genesis of the ivermectin movement is Dr. Pierre Kory of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance. His status as a preeminent authority who is saving lives with this wonder drug THEY don’t want you to know about is unquestioned by ivermectin faithful, but Kory must be explored more deeply. The FLCCC is known in medical circles for proclaiming that they have discovered innovative, maverick methods only to find later that these weren’t able to be replicated by other studies. In Kory’s case, he claimed that increasing steroids would benefit COVID patients, but it’s still very unclear whether they did more good than harm. That’s partly because…

6. Kory Really Doesn’t Like Randomized Controlled Trials

Randomized controlled human trials are essential in medicine because they prove whether or not something is effective in a vacuum. When people say that ivermectin needs to be looked into, this is actually what they should mean. Unfortunately, Kory believes that RCTs are immoral because they involve giving sick patients a placebo.

“Everyone in medicine will yell and scream that this paper is not a randomized controlled trial,” he told MedPage Today . “We didn't believe in an RCT. We believe we're supposed to doctor and use our expertise. If you've been doing this for decades, and you trust your assessment of the disease and your knowledge of medicine, it's OK to doctor.”

Kory’s dedication to saving lives is commendable, but the fact is that his methods are directly impeding the pursuit of ivermectin as a possible treatment. Without widespread randomized controlled human trials, it is simply impossible to say whether ivermectin actually is doing anything to help. Sadly, that hasn’t stopped Kory.

5. A Meta-Analysis by Kory is Really Bad

Kory has been hard at work trying to prove the effectiveness of ivermectin in what trials have been conducted, but his published work suffers greatly from the fact that his sources don’t pass scientific rigor. He conducted a meta-analysis of several studies, mostly in foreign countries, as well as some “natural experiments.” Philip Machanick did an exhaustive breakdown of each study Kory cites for his meta-analysis, and points out that “the studies cited do not conform to the kind of careful design that aims to correct for bias, particularly in observational studies where the methodology was not designed from the start to obtain accurate statistic.”

Basically, while the studies are not themselves invalid or worthless, they often don’t correct for possible errors in bias that would make them "proof." For example, some studies fail to establish proper blindness, or they don’t explain the dropping out of subjects. Machanick really goes into the depth for every study cited, so feel free to check the work yourselves.

Absolutely none of these studies show that ivermectin can’t possibly help against COVID. What they do indicate is that carefully designed RCTs are needed to prove that ivermectin should be treated as a possible option. More science is the answer because the point is far from settled. This is why the World Health Organization recommends that ivermectin only be used in trials.

The sloppy methodology of Kory’s sources is probably why one of the places that Kory wanted to publish, Frontiers in Pharmacology decided to cancel publication. Kory’s subsequent response is incredibly disturbing.

4. Ivermectin Has Now Become a Culture War

In the brief time that the abstract of the paper was on the Frontiers website, it was viewed 85,000 times. Kory took to Twitter to complain of censorship despite the fact that his paper is widely available through other means. He’s subsequently been a guest on podcasts hosted by Bret Weinstein and Joe Rogan, leading him to become a darling of the conspiracy theory sphere by people convinced that the government is hiding a wonder drug to push evil vaccination propaganda.

This is a very bad sign that is all too reminiscent of how disgraced doctor Andrew Wakefield began the modern anti-vaccination movement. Kory has now built himself an online army that is perfectly happy to scream and harass people over ivermectin, which is a far cry from the RCTs that he should be doing instead. I personally have received emails and tweets since I started covering the subject calling me a murderer for saying ivermectin has not been proven to help yet. It would not be inaccurate to say that Kory, Weinstein, and Rogan have become minor, and hopefully accidental, cult leaders spurring supporters to wage holy war. Those supporters are convinced that ivermectin has already started saving millions of lives.

3. Ivermectin Has Not Saved Millions of Lives

The Gateway Pundit may be the single least trustworthy right wing news source on Earth, which is kind of impressive really. They’ve adopted Kory as a medical saint and claimed that ivermectin has been responsible for saving millions of lives in India. It hasn’t.

Ivermectin is definitely being used in India, although doctors on the ground there say that they are being pressured to do so by both people who have heard about it on the internet and the Indian government. One doctor, who did not want to be named, described the use of the drug as a form of “faith healing.”

There is absolutely no evidence that ivermectin has been responsible for the drop in number of cases in India. The Indian Council of Medical Research updated its guidelines to include ivermectin (and hydroxychloroquine) as optional treatments in May. Shortly after, there was a decline in cases. However, we don’t know how much ivermectin was actually used because it was just an optional treatment. Furthermore, the drug was included for use in patients who were already sick, not as a preventive, meaning that the introduction of ivermectin shouldn’t have had any effect on the number of cases. It’s possible that renewed restrictions involving masks had a much stronger effect.

Ivermectin was also used in Peru as far back as May 2020, but the use doesn’t seem to have prevented multiple waves of infection or death there. Peru eventually withdrew recommending the drug in this past March.

2. Only Randomized Controlled Trials Will Prove Ivermectin’s Effectiveness

It is possible that ivermectin could help COVID patients. At this point, the evidence does not show that ivermectin definitely doesn’t. However, the drug will have to go through multiple blind randomized controlled trials with humans before it can be said that it is worth anything. The FLCCC does not appear to want those trials to take place, and that should worry everyone. There is a word for doctors who want to be seen as miracle makers but who also balk at having their homework checked. Especially when their response to having their work rejected is to cry about it to a large, populist audience that is not scientifically literate and willing to go on harassment raids.

Until the same level of scientific work that went into developing the current vaccinations has been done on ivermectin, its use as a COVID drug is at best a guess. Which is why we should remember that…

1. Ivermectin Is Definitely Far Less Effective Than the Vaccines

If ivermectin was a wonder drug, then by now it would have shown an effect that would stand out even in the poorly designed studies that have been done. At the very best it could have a mild benefit. That means that it is a fraction of a percentage as effective as vaccination. The Pfizer vaccine alone has been shown time after time in study after study to be 90 percent effective in stopping the coronavirus as well as safe in the general population. These drugs do not require a single maverick doctor to champion them because the work gets checked over and over again and found to be correct.

The possible virtues of ivermectin aside, there is no denying that its place in the current cultural zeitgeist is more about vaccine denial than anything else. People are not screaming at strangers online because ivermectin is a possible tool in the fight. They are doing it because if ivermectin turns out to be effective then all their nonsense about vaccination will be validated. Ivermectin’s most effective use has been to continue the degradation of faith in scientific institutions in the face of a deadly global crises. The protection it offers is mental, not physical. It has ceased being a drug and become a sacrament in the church of bullshit.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.