There have been a number of medically dubious “alternatives” in the fight against COVID, some of them touted by a certain former American president. But one was perhaps more infamous than them all. That would be ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug used on humans and livestock alike. Its professed ability to combat a virus that has killed millions has been touted by far right commentators and belittled by others. And now, after a major study, it appears that, when it comes to the novel coronavirus, it doesn’t really do diddly-squat.
As per The New York Times, a large clinical study published on Wednesday revealed that it showed “no sign of alleviating the disease,” effectively ruling it out as a form of COVID treatment. The study looked at more than 1,300 people infected with the virus in Brazil, leading experts to conclude that there’s “really no sign of any benefit” of taking the drug, often used to de-worm horses, to treat humans suffering from the highly transmissible disease.
In the early days of the pandemic, ivermectin was one of thousands of drugs researchers experimented on to combat COVID, and some studies suggested it might block the coronavirus. Some of those tests proved to be flawed and the Food and Drug Administration never claimed it could be used to treat those afflicted. Some doctors began prescribing it anyway and, by last summer, it was gaining steam among vaccine skeptics. Among them was Rogan, who casually mentioned using ivermectin among a dense cocktail of drugs he took after testing positive, leading to much backlash.
Even with the new study’s findings, testing into ivermectin’s COVID efficacy remains ongoing. But one infectious-disease expert isn’t holding his breath. “I welcome the results of the other clinical trials and will view them with an open mind,” Dr. Paul Sax, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told NYT, “but at some point it will become a waste of resources to continue studying an unpromising approach.”
In other words, if you still somehow haven’t gotten your free, safe, and effective COVID vaccine — to say nothing of a booster — maybe now’s the time to do so before the next wave hits.