Here is what both sides are saying about ivermectin. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.
Top Story: Ivermectin
Last Wednesday Joe Rogan announced on Instagram that he tested positive for Covid-19. The popular podcast host said he took several medications, including ivermectin, which federal health regulators have warned against as a treatment for the virus. On Friday, Rogan posted another picture saying he tested negative for Covid-19 adding, “Thanks for all the kind wishes!” Rogan’s remarks along with a host of other headlines sparked an intense debate over ivermectin which the FDA has approved “to treat some parasitic worms, as well as a topical treatment for head lice and skin conditions like rosacea,” Felicia Schwartz writes for the Wall Street Journal. “It is also used in the US to treat or prevent parasites in animals.” Matthew Perrone of the Associated Press notes that “Federal health officials have seen a surge in prescriptions this summer, accompanied by worrying increases in reported overdoses.” For example, “the drug was even given to inmates at a jail in northwest Arkansas for COVID-19, despite federal warnings against that use.” With that as a backdrop, here is what both sides are saying about ivermectin.
Left-Leaning Sentiment: Not An Effective Treatment
Left-leaning outlets and commentators cite studies showing ivermectin is not an effective treatment at preventing hospitalization for Covid-19. They urge people to get vaccines instead, which have shown proven results and are free. Some think the right is using ivermectin as a “political wedge.”
“Some Americans ignore warnings against using ivermectin to treat Covid.” Alyssa Lukpat and Emma Goldberg, New York Times: “Though it has not been shown to be effective in treating Covid, people are still clamoring to get the drug, trading tips in Facebook groups and on Reddit. Some physicians have compared the phenomenon with last year’s surge of interest in hydroxychloroquine, though ivermectin has undergone more clinical trials. One of the largest trials, called the Together Trial, was halted last month because the drug had been shown to be no better than a placebo at preventing hospitalization for Covid. In July, a research paper indicating that the medicine reduced Covid deaths was withdrawn after questions arose about plagiarism and data manipulation.” … On Twitter last month, the Food and Drug Administration warned that the drug was not approved for use against Covid and that taking large doses could cause serious harm. ‘You are not a horse,’ its tweet read. ‘You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.’”
“Covid trends like ivermectin are deadly distractions. Why can’t we stop them?” Dr. Ryan Marino, emergency physician and medical toxicologist, NBC Think: It’s easy to joke about ignorant or desperate people taking horse dewormers, but misinformation like this really is deadly. Hydroxychloroquine was used off-label by many around the world, with devastating results, and the same thing is now happening again. … Risky coronavirus cures and unproven treatments, from hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin to oleandrin and now ivermectin, prove an epidemic of science denial has flourished online. … The pro-ivermectin crowd would have you believe that the science on ivermectin is being ‘suppressed.’ It is not. Some of the largest-scale scientific efforts ever have involved the study of ivermectin in Covid-19. Another claim is that the pharmaceutical industry does not want to lose potential profits to a relatively cheap, older drug. This claim conveniently ignores the fact that one of the only drugs with good evidence for use in Covid-19 is dexamethasone, a cheap, old drug that has been implemented worldwide during this pandemic. … Here in the United States, we already have access to something much better: safe, effective, life-saving vaccines. Now we just need people to stop looking for false cures in the feed store and get vaccinated.”
“The Ivermectin Boom Is the Inevitable Product of Our Crass Culture Wars” Natalie Shure, The New Republic: “Despite its surging popularity, there’s no good evidence that ivermectin is effective against the coronavirus. The largest and most reputable clinical trial to date found the drug offered no clinical benefit whatsoever, and much of what’s been sold as promising evidence to the contrary has been debunked. … As the right leans ever harder on waging eternal culture war as an electoral tactic, ivermectin has become its latest wedge issue. … In short, the dismaying ivermectin craze is a pure product of nihilism … It’s also what happens when right-wing media figures beckon voters into an alternate reality by doing kayfabe smackdowns of imagined caricatures of lefty college libs who think they’re better than rural simpletons. … Against all odds, in a political system utterly captured by money and the villains who have the most of it, we somehow wound up with an effective vaccine, available in every town in the country, free at the point of use. But we also wound up with a world in which broad swaths of people have been conned into rejecting it. After all, who needs vaccines in a world chock full of ivermectin?”
Right-Leaning Sentiment: Probably Not Our Silver Bullet, But Why Not Keep Learning More About It?
Right-leaning outlets and commentators are skeptical of ivermectin, but they also appear to be more open to its use. The most supportive piece was published in the Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages in July. Since then others have questioned why the media hate that ivermectin could potentially help.
“Why Is the FDA Attacking a Safe, Effective Drug?” David R. Henderson and Charles L. Hooper, Wall Street Journal Opinion: “The Food and Drug Administration claims to follow the science. So why is it attacking ivermectin, a medication it certified in 1996? … Ivermectin is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. Merck has donated four billion doses to prevent river blindness and other diseases in Africa and other places where parasites are common. A group of 10 doctors who call themselves the Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance have said ivermectin is ‘one of the safest, low-cost, and widely available drugs in the history of medicine.’ Ivermectin fights 21 viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the cause of Covid-19. A single dose reduced the viral load of SARS-CoV-2 in cells by 99.8% in 24 hours and 99.98% in 48 hours, according to a June 2020 study published in the journal Antiviral Research. … Despite the FDA’s claims, ivermectin is safe at approved doses. Out of four billion doses administered since 1998, there have been only 28 cases of serious neurological adverse events… If the FDA were driven by science and evidence, it would give an emergency-use authorization for ivermectin for Covid-19. Instead, the FDA asserts without evidence that ivermectin is dangerous.”
“Ivermectin is the new hydroxychloroquine” Kaylee McGhee White, Washington Examiner: “There is a nationwide campaign being driven by the media to undermine ivermectin … It is similar to the debate over hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug touted by former President Donald Trump in the early days of the pandemic, in that no one actually knows whether the drug works against COVID-19 or not. However, the media have convinced themselves that they know better than the doctors prescribing ivermectin to their coronavirus patients. … To be clear, we do not know whether ivermectin is an effective treatment against COVID-19. Because it’s not an anti-viral treatment, it’s very likely that it’s not effective at all. But there is also no evidence that ivermectin would harm coronavirus patients if it is prescribed in the correct dosage. So why shouldn’t patients be able to request the drug for treatment if they want? … It would be nice if the media at least admitted [they just didn’t know] instead of jumping to a conclusion prematurely. But then, how would the media make themselves appear smarter than everyone else?”
“From wonder drug to horse pill: Media, FDA inflame social panic on ivermectin” Ed Morrissey, Hot Air: “Clearly ivermectin isn’t just a ‘livestock medicine,’ despite the characterizations of it we see now in the media. It’s a crucial and important medicine for hundreds of millions of human beings around the world… The media’s seizure of this initial characterization from the FDA is irresponsible, and even a little bit of research would have shown that narrative to be ridiculously false. … Now, does that make it an effective treatment against COVID-19? No, and since its classification is anti-parasitic, it doesn’t even necessarily suggest a connection. … Not only do we not have that data, from current indications no one is even suggesting we should do such a study, not even the manufacturer of ivermectin. … Furthermore, we do have tested and established ways to deal with COVID-19. We have three approved vaccines in use in the US, plus we have monoclonal antibody treatments available… In other words — get vaccinated.”
Flag This: If Only There Was Anti-Viral Medication for Viral Misinformation
In this newsletter, we do our best to present both sides, contextulize the information with facts and figures from public polling, and, from time-to-time, flag media malpractice. As it relates to the final point, Rolling Stone found itself in hot water this past weekend after it published a post on ivermectin last Friday. In a nutshell, the magazine released a story about Oklahoma hospitals being overwhelmed by patients who overdosed on ivermectin. Subsequently, it went viral and was picked up by other outlets including New York Daily News, Newsweek, The Guardian, Insider, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Joy Reid. Unfortunately, the doctor Rolling Stone cited for the article was called out by the hospital in question. He was the only source and hasn’t worked there in months. Freelance commentary writer, Drew Holden has a very eye-opening Twitter thread which highlights how quickly misinformation can spread. It’s worth a read.