Ivermectin, the antiparasitic drug that’s been popularized by anti-vaxxers as a purported remedy for COVID-19, does not reduce COVID hospitalizations at all, a new clinical study of patients in Brazil showed.
The randomized double-blind study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, gave 679 people ivermectin and an equal amount a placebo three days in a row between March and August 2021.
After looking at the more than 1,300 people who took either ivermectin or the placebo, researchers found there was no “significantly or clinically meaningful lower risk” of hospital admission or prolonged emergency room visits of more than six hours for those who took ivermectin.
Dr. Paul Sax, a Harvard Medical School professor and infectious disease expert at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told the New York Times that the study effectively proves ivermectin does not treat COVID-19.
“I welcome the results of the other clinical trials and will view them with an open mind, but at some point it will become a waste of resources to continue studying an unpromising approach,” he said.
Ivermectin has been in use for decades in the U.S. and is used to treat humans for diseases such as head lice and river blindness. It was first approved to treat animals, including horses, for diseases such as heartworms.
Though the Food and Drug Administration published guidance last year warning Americans against treating COVID with ivermectin, it became a popular over-the-counter treatment among vaccine skeptics. At one point last August, Mississippi’s state Department of Health said that 70 percent of the poison control calls it was receiving were related to ivermectin ingestion.
Last year, GOP Sen. Rand Paul suggested that a “hatred of Trump” had prevented research into ivermectin as a COVID cure.
Last fall, for example, QAnon influencers harassed staffers at a Chicago hospital to give ivermectin to their friend, anti-vaccine and QAnon conspiracy theorist Veronica Wolski, and accused providers of trying to murder Wolski when they refused to give her the unapproved treatment. Wolski later died.
It wasn’t only taken in the U.S.; at one point, a state in India offered ivermectin to all adults.
Podcaster Joe Rogan, for example, said last year after he was infected with COVID-19 that he was treating the illness with vitamins, monoclonal antibodies—legitimate FDA-approved treatments for COVID-19—and ivermectin. “[The media] tried to make it seem like I’m doing some wacky shit that’s completely ineffective,” Rogan said of ivermectin after he had recovered. “What they didn’t highlight is that I got better.”
Four incarcerated people at the Washington County (Arkansas) Detention Center who were given ivermectin by a doctor, Robert Karas, without their knowledge or consent sued the facility and the doctor earlier this year, with the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas telling the Washington Post that the jail and its officials “must be held accountable” for Karas’ “medical experimentation” on the incarcerated people.
The Washington County Quorum Court, the county’s legislative branch, approved a non-binding resolution last month praising Karas for his work at the jail, while at the same time rejecting another resolution "supporting the principle of informed consent to medical treatments."
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