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Let's go through the data
Ivermectin is flying off the shelves at feed stores in the south. There’s a lot of whacky mis/dis-information out there stating that Ivermectin “works” against COVID-19. To make matters worse, people are using the veterinary-type products (not meant for human consumption) to treat their COVID infections or give them to family members to prevent COVID. Let’s go through the data on why this is really risky.
Ivermectin is used for animals in very different dosages and usages than humans. A DIFFERENT FORM is used for humans for certain infections caused by parasites - not viruses. These are prescriptions from your doctor.
So, why the hype against COVID-19?
In cell cultures, “Ivermectin has been shown to inhibit the replication of SARS-CoV-2 in cell cultures. However, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies suggest that achieving the plasma concentrations necessary for the antiviral efficacy detected in vitro would require administration of doses up to 100-fold higher than those approved for use in humans.” (Source here.) Whoa! So it could work to inhibit replication but at large doses - much larger than is approved for humans.
Are there other studies going on to continue studying Ivermectin against COVID?
Yes. But, at this time, Ivermectin is not approved for a treatment or preventative measure against COVID-19. Early on in the pandemic, there were some smaller studies that seemed to show it might work against severe disease - but these were very small studies and not the rigorous study design types (like a randomized trial). However, other studies showed no effect against COVID. There are clinical trials looking into whether it is effective as a treatment - but, those trials are still ongoing. For these trials to be scientifically rigorous and evidence based (read=legit), they need to be well-designed, with adequate numbers of people, double-blinded to compare to a placebo group, and followed for an appropriate amount of time. Those are ongoing but not done yet. I’ll keep you updated.
One mega-study (my wording because they combined several studies together) back in March 2021 did look at whether Ivermectin reduced severe disease, the need for ventilator support, and death. This study included 16 randomized-controlled trials (the most rigorous study design comparing Ivermectin to a placebo) and found NO evidence that Ivermectin reduced disease severity, the need for ventilators, and death. Thus, so far there’s no indication through RIGOROUS trials that ivermectin works against COVID-19.
Where did the bad information come from?
In early 2021, I did a post debunking using Ivermectin for COVID-19 and got slammed with comments, threats, and then the post just disappeared - along with my blog. Weird. So, the misinformation circulating about using Ivermectin (the animal kind) has been around and is now being touted by certain leaders. I remember seeing posts from people I knew in farm communities telling people to use the animal-cream product as a preventative measure. Do you all remember the viral congressional hearing where it was touted as a miracle drug? The studies were not conclusive and still aren’t. It’s now touted by conservative pundits/Fox News as a miracle drug. (I’m not being political here. You just won’t see it touted by non-conservative groups. The circulation of the disinformation is one-sided.) I know there’s lots of anecdotal information out there from doctors using it and saying it works against COVID. HOWEVER, we have to test these medicines through the appropriate study designs against a placebo with an adequate number of people in a controlled trial to see if people got better due to ivermectin or something else or their own immune systems or…
The result is adverse events and overdosing.
A recent study found that outpatient Ivermectin prescriptions increased through retail pharmacies from an average of 3,600 per week pre-pandemic (2019) to a whopping 39,000 per week at the beginning of January 2021. This more than doubled to 88,000 per week by August 2021. This is a 24-fold increase.
Adverse events include GI problems, hypotension, neurologic effects, seizures, coma, and death. Poison control centers have seen a five-fold increase in calls related to ivermectin with increases in ER visits related to overdosing and/or taking the veterinary products. This includes the vet-cream products that people are rubbing on their skin to prevent COVID-19.
Please be careful to not use Ivermectin if you or your loved ones have COVID-19. We don’t know enough yet about whether it works or not to advise for it. And, the risk of adverse events are pretty high. Lastly, do not use the animal products as preventative or treatment measures. Those claims they work are not true and can result in some pretty scary adverse events.
Let’s let the science process do the work to test these proposed treatments against COVID-19. We know monoclonal antibody treatment works because it went through the rigorous study designs. We need to do the same with Ivermectin before jumping to conclusions. Be careful what you hear or read about this drug.
For the FDA recommendations against using Ivermectin, go here.
For the CDC Health Advisory against using Ivermectin, go here.