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Misinformation – Ivermectin, the Media, and the Medical Profession

Ivermectin, even saying the name is likely to have you labeled a conspiracy theorist, anti-vaxxer, or worse these days, but does Ivermectin deserve the negative reputation it’s been given by the medical profession and media?

Labeled a horse dewormer by mainstream media, Ivermectin is, in fact, one of the most misrepresented drugs of the pandemic.

Horse Parasitic or Legitimate Human Medication?

Ivermectin was discovered in 1975 and, it is true, it was originally used in veterinary medicine as an anti-parasitic for horses. It became a human drug in the late 1980s and since then has a pretty impressive record.

The scientists that discovered Ivermectin were awarded a Nobel prize in 2015, as it was the first in a new class of drug known as anti-parasitic. It has played a major role in Africa, where it is used to cure river blindness.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has Ivermectin on its list of essential medications. In the US, there were over 100,000 scripts written for Ivermectin in 2018.

Studies have shown it to have an antiviral effect against Zika, Dengue, Yellow Fever, West Nile, Hendra, Newcastle, Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis, Chikungunya, Semliki Forest, Sindbis, Avian influenza A, Porcine Reproductive, and Respiratory Syndrome.

A 2017 article, Ivermectin: enigmatic multifaceted ‘wonder’ drug continues to surprise and exceed expectations, in the Journal of Antibiotics lauded Ivermectin saying:

Ivermectin is continuing to surprise and excite scientists, offering more and more promise to help improve global public health by treating a diverse range of diseases, with its unexpected potential as an antibacterial, antiviral and anti-cancer agent being particularly extraordinary.

Of course, none of this proves it has any effect against SARS CoV 2, but it does prove labeling it a horse dewormer is unfair at best and deliberate misinformation at worst.

Ivermectin and the Pandemic

After a spike in the number of Ivermectin scripts, TGA, the Australian regulator has banned doctors in general practice from prescribing Ivermectin for anything but defined uses, such as scabies.

However, at a hospital level, specialists can prescribe it for unapproved uses if they consider it appropriate. What is interesting is the reason that the TGA has taken this step now. Explaining their reasoning, they said:

             “Firstly, there are a number of significant public health risks associated with taking ivermectin in an attempt to prevent COVID-19 infection rather than getting vaccinated. Individuals who believe that they are protected from infection by taking ivermectin may choose not to get tested or to seek medical care if they experience symptoms. Doing so has the potential to spread the risk of COVID-19 infection throughout the community.”

On that statement, it appears the main reason is the government prefers Australians to be vaccinated.

In the US, the FDA, CDC, and AMA caution against the use of Ivermectin for COVID-19. Those doctors that have prescribed it for patients have repeatedly had pharmacists refuse to dispense it.

The interference in the doctor-patient relationship in itself is cause for concern.

But perhaps the most inexplicable action to date was when the FDA tweeted, You are not a horse. You are not a cow.

Seriously, y’all, stop it.” It’s hard to believe the somewhat pointed tweet was not political and aimed squarely at Pro-Trump supporters in the south and mid-west.

The use of y’all clearly not complimentary. The FDA knew full well it was a human medication, yet deliberately neglected to mention it, cementing horse dewormer in the mind of the average American.

The action of medical professionals the world over is also disconcerting.

For a profession that is science and evidence-based, their attitude to Ivermectin is everything they accuse conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers of and represents a complete bias toward the treatment.

Their uniform response was, “there’s no evidence to support Ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19.”

Ladies and Gentlemen….The Evidence

The most recent meta-analysis of Ivermectin as a treatment for SARS CoV 2 considered 18 randomized control treatment trials and found:

“large, statistically significant reductions in mortality, time to clinical recovery, and time to viral clearance.” 

It also found:

[the] results from numerous controlled prophylaxis trials report significantly reduced risks of contracting COVID-19 with the regular use of ivermectin. Finally, the many examples of Ivermectin distribution campaigns leading to rapid population-wide decreases in morbidity and mortality indicate that an oral agent effective in all phases of COVID-19 has been identified.”

In addition, there are at least two community interventions that are of relevance. The largest and perhaps most significant occurred in Mexico City and involved 77,000 participants in the study group and 156,468 in the control.

Mexico City was on the brink of disaster hospitals were at saturation point. A community initiative saw those diagnosed with SARS CoV 2 given a home kit containing 24 mg of Ivermectin, taken over two days.

The results speak for themselves with the likelihood of hospitalization reducing between 50% to 76%.

Although not a randomized trial, given the number of participants and the adjustments to prevent bias, it must carry some weight. Incidentally, that’s more people than Pfizer had in its mRNA vaccine trial.

What is extremely relevant is it appeared Ivermectin resulted in a reduction in viral load, which is significant because that reduces transmissibility, something which is a major problem with the Delta variant.

The result of a Peru community initiative bore similar results. Twenty-five states were involved, with each state given a minimum, medium, or maximum dose of Ivermectin. The number of deaths was then considered.

Those receiving the minimum dose had a 25% reduction in deaths from COVID-19. The medium group had a 57% reduction and the maximum group saw a 74% reduction in deaths from COVID-19.

On the basis of these two interventions alone, there is evidence that Ivermectin has both prophylactic and therapeutic uses and would serve as an effective complement to the vaccine, so why then is even the mention of it likely to send that have any health professional into overdrive.

As qualified medical professionals, doctors practice evidence-based medicine, yet mention Ivermectin and it’s as if you’ve grown a second head.

Those medical professionals that are prepared to follow the evidence suffer the consequences.

The much-publicized case of Dr. Mary Bowden who had her privileges suspended at Houston Methodist for promoting the efficacy of Ivermectin on her social media account is just one example.

The Role of the Media

The reaction of the medical profession is strange even, but add the media beat up and it just makes the situation even more surreal.

The approach of Rolling Stone magazine is a classic example. Their article, “Gunshot victims left waiting as horse dewormer overdoses overwhelm Oklahoma hospitals” quoted Dr. Jason McElyea.

Rolling Stone reported Dr. McElyea as saying, “the rise in people using ivermectin” overwhelmed emergency rooms at rural hospitals, which were “so backed up that gunshot victims were having hard times getting to facilities where they can get definitive care.”

Admittedly, this would be a terrible situation or it would be where any of it is true. Turns out it wasn’t.  Northeastern Hospital System Sequoyah issued a statement:

“Although Dr. Jason McElyea is not an employee of NHS Sequoyah, he is affiliated with a medical staffing group that provides coverage for our emergency room. With that said, Dr. McElyea has not worked at our Sallisaw location in over 2 months. NHS Sequoyah has not treated any patients due to complications related to taking Ivermectin. This includes not treating any patients for Ivermectin overdose. All patients who have visited our emergency room have received medical attention as appropriate. Our hospital has not had to turn away any patients seeking emergency care.”

Even the photo was accompanying the article was false, taken in the middle of winter, six months before at a different location.

But, did Rolling Stone retract the article? Of course not, posting a small note at the top saying the hospital denied the contents of the article, the article remains online to this day continuing to imply the lie.

What made the Rolling Stone article even worse is media jumped all over it, including MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who is followed by more than 10 million users on Twitter, the BBC, the Guardian, Business Insider, Newsweek, and the New York Daily News, to name but a few.

Despite spreading what is clearly disinformation to discredit what is looking like a viable COVID-19 treatment, all still have their social media accounts up and running without restriction.

Could you imagine what would have happened, if someone like former New York Times journalist, Alex Berenson had tweeted something even remotely like this, as in a total lie?

He, no doubt, would have had his Twitter account suspended and probably ended up banned. Oh wait, that’s right, that did happen, albeit in relation to another story.

Misinformation and the Pandemic

Misinformation has been a major issue throughout the pandemic, but it is always attributed to the side (for want of a better word) that questions the mainstream view.

We are constantly told that treatments like Ivermectin have no credible scientific evidence to support them, something Ivermectin shows to be false.

Questions must be asked regarding the independence of the medical profession because their outright dismissal of treatments like Ivermectin is unfathomable; as is their need to mention links to horse dewormer every time they speak of the drug.

What makes this is even more disturbing is the high status of many of the organizations making the comments, such as the FDA. Ivermectin is clearly referred to in this manner to discredit it among the wider public and it is clearly misinformation. As former President Clinton will tell you, lying by omission is still lying, nonetheless.

The same is true of the mainstream media who operate their social media accounts with reckless disregard, seemingly immune from the censorship being imposed on the regular user.

Posting anything relating to Ivermectin is regularly removed, even with the evidence behind it, yet Rolling Stone magazine’s blatant lie remains.

Against this background, is there any wonder many members of the public are questioning the official version of the pandemic, the treatments, and the vaccines?

Removing disinformation from the public arena is vital, but it’s equally important to realize both sides are guilty of the same offense; however, only one seems to suffer the consequences. The media consistently reports only news that promotes the mainstream version.

If you still don’t believe it, consider, how many stories have you seen in the mainstream media about Pfizer’s falsified data in the vaccine trials? What about the numerous companies rejecting President Biden’s vaccination mandates, or the three court decisions that have overturned the mandates?

Few, if any? In the words of any good defense attorney, I rest my case.

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