Jason appeared to be really worried about his granddaughter Ruby, and wanted advice about how to help her.
“My granddaughter is sick. Flu like symptoms, she’s six months old,” Jason said on Tuesday night. “Her mother is worried sick, she just had COVID last week.”
But rather than speaking to a medical professional, Jason was seeking advice from a QAnon Telegram group filled with tens of thousands of people who think COVID is a hoax.
“Do you guys think it’s safe to give ivermectin to an infant?” Jason wrote in the chat group.
The group Jason was asking for advice has spent months sharing information about how to obtain ivermectin, how to avoid going to hospitals, and how to treat the symptoms of COVID—which they don’t believe exists—at home.
“Baby aspirin to thin the blood a little and drop any fever and I would put some ivermectin on the bottoms of her feet,” one group member responded. Others encouraged Jason to seek out those within the community who were “experts” in ivermectin usage.
And one user called Katie, clearly believed she was such an expert:
“From what I understand, yes it is safe to give to an infant, however please stop calling it COVID, it’s not COVID, it’s a simple cold. That’s how we got in this mess to begin with,” Katie wrote.
Moments later, Jason posted an update saying that he’d followed Katie’s advice.
“We gave her two doses of ivermectin at 50mg each. That’s what was recommended by someone on here. She got really sick after that. Related? I don’t know,” Jason claimed in an update.
Within minutes, Jason reported that things had gone from bad to worse.
“Baby threw up. Is that common side effect? She's also turning a tad blue,” Jason said.
When someone told him they’d gone to the emergency room when their child turned blue, Jason responded: “We don’t trust hospitals. I told my son to give her more ivermectin.” Others pointed out that if the child died, he’d need a lawyer, not a doctor.
As more and more members of the group urged Jason to take the child to hospital, he still pushed back.
“Hospital is not an option,” Jason wrote. “Any other ideas? They gave her another 50mg of ivermectin.”
Group members continued to plead with Jason to go to the hospital.
“That baby needs to go to the ER. Do not hesitate,” one group member called Barbara, who said she was a respiratory therapist, wrote. “I’ve seen too many go south due to O2 levels being low. The blue is hypoxia and that’s lack of oxygen at the tissue level. Please!”
Ultimately, Jason told the group, the child was brought to hospital. “[My] son is taking baby to urgent care. Against my wishes but I’m praying for her. It’s in God’s hands now,” Jason wrote before later adding an update that Ruby was “doing better.”
“God knew what to do even though I thought hospital was certain death,” Jason wrote on Wednesday night. “Thanks for everyone's advice.”
Ivermectin has become the drug of choice among those who believe that vaccines are dangerous or that COVID is nothing more than a mild cold—both of which are untrue.
The anti-parasitic drug, which is effective for a variety of conditions in humans and animals, continues to be studied as a possible treatment for COVID, but to date has no proven use in treating or preventing it.
While the form of ivermectin designed for human consumption can be given to infants as young as six months old under strict conditions, the group Jason turned to typically advises people to go to their local feed stores in order to obtain the non-human form of the drug.
Jason did not respond immediately to VICE News’s questions about where his family obtained any ivermectin they might have given to Ruby.
Here’s an example of the type of advice being given out in the channel Jason turned to in his hour of need:
“Go to a local farm supply store & buy injectable ivermectin or horse paste ivermectin wormer. Be sure that ivermectin is the only worming agent in whatever you buy. Look up the dosage on the internet. I just saw an article about using benadryl & drinking milk to treat COVID.”
Just to be perfectly clear, you should not be using the veterinary grade version of ivermectin for any reason, and drinking benadryl and milk does not treat COVID.
The channel that Jason asked for advice has over 21,000 members and features the number 88 in its name, a figure that many white supremacist groups use as a numerical code for "Heil Hitler,” because H is the eighth letter of the alphabet.
The channel is run by Mike Penny, a conspiracy theorist and a close ally of Michael Protzman, the leader of the cult-like group who have been holed up in Dallas for the last three months, awaiting JFK’s return.
Penny was meant to travel to Dallas with the group at the beginning of November, but suffered a heart attack a week before the get together. But that didn’t slow him down: he raised $75,000 from his followers to fund his trip, according to a researcher known as Karma, who has been closely monitoring this group from its inception.
“He holds live chats regularly for people to ask questions which range from conspiracy theories to COVID advice and scams,” Karma told VICE News.
QAnon influencers like Penny have expanded their reach during the pandemic by spreading lies about COVID, which they claim is part of some grand scheme to control the population. And having listened to years of conspiracies about a global cabal of paedophiles drinking the blood of children, QAnon followers are primed to believe whatever claims their leaders are making about COVID–even when it threatens people’s lives.
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