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Horsing around with Ivermectin
News, hope, and truth in the age of COVID
By now, if you have not heard of the “horse dewormer” Ivermectin, you must be a Martian living on Alpha Centauri. Assuming you walk on two feet in year two of the COVID pandemic, you should be familiar with the name. But do you know everything there is to know? Life is complicated. Your health is important. Your critical thinking, essential. I invite you to put your thinking cap on, hear a variety of arguments from a few perspectives, read a few studies, perhaps do some research beyond what I have on these pages, and then, only then, decide what you are going to believe. Be a human being. Make evolution proud by using your enlarged human brain for its intended purpose – thinking!
I am not going to tell you what to think. I simply hope that, by the end of this story, you will feel more informed and empowered to make better decisions for yourself.
What's Ivermacting really?
“Ivermectin is an antiparasitic medicine with a broad spectrum of activity. It is used in the treatment of onchocerciasis (river blindness), strongyloidiasis, and other diseases caused by soil-transmitted helminthiasis. It is also used to treat scabies. “
Administered topically, ivermectin cream is indicated for the treatment of inflammatory lesions associated with rosacea. An over-the-counter ivermection lotion is commercially available and indicated for the topical treatment of head lice infestations in patients ≥6 months of age.
Orally administered ivermectin is indicated as a broad-spectrum antiparasitic for the treatment of intestinal strongyloidiasis caused by Strongyloides stercoralis and onchocerciasis caused by Onchocerca volvulus.7 Systemic ivermectin therapy is used internationally for the treatment of various tropical diseases, including filariasis, cutaneous larva migrans, and Loa loa infection, amongst others.
Ivermectin was discovered in 1975 and came into medical use in 1981. In 2015, William Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for its discovery and applications. It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines. Ivermectin is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an antiparasitic agent. In 2018, it was the 420th most commonly prescribed medication in the United States, with more than one hundred thousand prescriptions. The medication is also being researched as a way to treat or prevent tropical diseases, including yellow fever and malaria.
The FDA has not authorized or approved ivermectin for use in preventing or treating COVID-19 in humans or animals. Ivermectin is approved for human use to treat infections caused by some parasitic worms and head lice, and skin conditions like rosacea.
Currently available data do not show ivermectin is effective against COVID-19. Clinical trials assessing ivermectin tablets for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 in people are ongoing.
Taking large doses of ivermectin is dangerous.
If your health care provider writes you an ivermectin prescription, fill it through a legitimate source such as a pharmacy, and take it exactly as prescribed.
Never use medications intended for animals on yourself or other people. Animal ivermectin products are very different from those approved for humans. The use of animal ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 in humans is dangerous.
What does the media say?
On The Left, the media has labeled a broad-spectrum drug, successfully used mainly for humans for the above-specified conditions, and currently studied for other human applications, as a "horse dewormer." By doing this, it heavily skews the public perception and judgment of those who talk about it as stupid science deniers.
Case in point, when Joe Rogan took the drug (as one of many things he did) to recover from COVID he recently ha, CNN’s Erin Burnett report seen HERE, said, "Joe Rogan announced he has tested positive for Covid-19 and that he took numerous medications to combat the virus, including the livestock drug ivermectin.” It prompted Joe Rogan to consider suing CNN, saying he used the human version and dosage of the drug as prescribed to him by a doctor.
It's interesting to consider that if Joe Rogan, with millions of followers, is portrayed as taking a "horse dewormer," millions of people could potentially decide that what's good for him is good for them, thus causing more people to try and use the animal version of the drug instead of the human one.
Rachel Maddow (MSNBC) reported and tweeted a story from Oklahoma city claiming that ivermectin poisoning is clogging the emergency room in a local hospital. The hospital in question stepped up to clarify that the person interviewed for the story does not work at the hospital, although occasionally contracted by them. Furthermore, this person has not been in the hospital for over two months, and that the story is not true. News outlets retracted the story, but she did not. Most people did not see or know about the retraction and still think that ivermectin is causing people to die in droves.
On The Right, prominent Republicans, conservative talk show hosts, anti-vaxxers, and telehealth programs are driving demand for the drug. To them, this drug is a miracle. They waste no time criticizing The Left, Biden's administration, the NIH, and the FDA for not making it available for broader use and conspiring to mandate vaccines instead.
Where is the science?
So far, the news is driven by preprints of several not yet peer-reviewed studies from all over the world. Some are small. Some are more significant. Some hopeful, others inconclusive. Some are funded by obscure organizations, even by GoFundme campaigns. Several are the meta-analysis of other studies. In other words, they compile the data and results of a few other studies. Ultimately, the way things go with science unless what you come up with can be duplicated, peer-reviewed, and your methods stand scrutiny; your study is worthless. Unless your models can stand the test of predictability (your model consistently predicts outcomes), you have nothing. So far, we have a lot of "maybe" and "could be" and very little of something we can bet a horse on. The following sums up the situation in the most concise way.
In July, The Guardian wrote, "Huge study supporting ivermectin as Covid treatment withdrawn over ethical concerns,
"The preprint endorsing ivermectin as a coronavirus therapy has been widely cited, but independent researchers find glaring discrepancies in the data."
In the original study (the "Elgazzar study" from Egypt), the authors claimed substantial improvement and 90 % reduction in mortality in ivermectin-treated groups, which sadly was not supported by the raw data they provided. Among the issues with the study, independent analysts discovered that at least 79 of the patients' records were clones. To complicate things further, at least two meta-analysis studies did include the Elgazzar research, which would skew their results and influence their conclusions in favor of Ivrermactin and excite the hopeful.
Even I fell for it.
In June of 2021, Reuters reported on a University of Oxford study sponsored by the British government, which showed that "Ivermectin resulted in a reduction of virus replication in laboratory studies, the university said, adding that a small pilot showed giving the drug early could reduce viral load and the duration of symptoms in some patients with mild COVID-19."
"By including ivermectin in a large-scale trial like PRINCIPLE, we hope to generate robust evidence to determine how effective the treatment is against Covid-19, and whether there are benefits or harms associated with its use."
This larger study is ongoing. You can learn more about it at https://www.principletrial.org/
This seems more like it. I am hopeful because it would be great to have a choice for people who can't or won't get vaccinated. As Joe Rogan did, we need to throw everything and the kitchen sink at COVID-19 if we want to make progress. If not this drug, perhaps another. The point is to keep looking, keep hoping, and keep trying.
At this point, however, I stand unconvinced about this drug, although giving it a lot of creed early on. As Cochrane Library (a collection of Cochrane Reviews, a database of systematic reviews and meta-analyses which summarize and interpret the results of medical research) puts it in one of their reviews, “Based on the current very low- to low-certainty evidence, we are uncertain about the efficacy and safety of ivermectin used to treat or prevent Covid-19.”
While on this path to discovery and recovery, we must remain vigilant and rational so we won't be exploited by those who stand to profit from segregating us and then pinning us against each other. "The Unvaccinated" are people too. Some of them don't have a choice. Some of them are mislead, manipulated, and confused. Some of them are waiting and watching, taking their time to decide. Others are irrational and fearful. I get judgy and angry that we are not all on the same page. I find myself running out of compassion and critical of everyone who stands opposite of me. But the reality of life in a diverse society is the headache of diversity itself. I have to remind myself that if I want to be helpful and useful, I must remain objective and rational.
This was my attempt at learning and passing it along, remaining objective and rational.
Meanwhile, vaccines remain the best way to keep you protected from getting infected, as the overwhelming majority of the people in hospitals across the world (upward of 80%) are unvaccinated. Many of them do not have the usual 4.0 contributing conditions the CDC lists. If you do get a breakthrough infection, you will likely be asymptomatic, or experience a mild illness that is about as likely to kill you as a cold. You will also be protecting others as you won’t be a super-spreader event all on your own, potentially causing the demise of someone you know or love.
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