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What is ivermectin and why is it wrongly believed to work against COVID-19?


The belief that cattle dewormers can be helpful against the virus began months ago with a laboratory experiment in Australia. Human poisoning can be fatal. This is your current scientific basis against the coronavirus.

The use of


has become popular as a supposed treatment for COVID-19 in the United States, encouraged by

prominent media figures and conservative politicians

, as well as by some doctors, despite harsh warnings issued by authorities in the United States. health and medical associations.

The concern of specialists comes from a specific fact: it is an antiparasitic for cattle without proven efficacy against the coronavirus.

"You are not a horse. Enough of #Ivermectin. It is not authorized to treat #COVID", was one of the messages that the United States Food and Drug Administration published, along with a photo of a gleaming horse, last month (FDA) on their social media.

The alert came as health authorities registered



wave of prescriptions for the drug

: 88,000 prescriptions per week in August according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

A considerable jump from the 3,600 that were requested per week before the pandemic.

At the same time, emergency calls for poisoning with the drug were triggered.

What happens with this antiparasitic

may sound like repeated history


We already had the sad example of


, which is used for malaria, which clearly did not show any positive effect [against coronavirus]," Sunil Parikh, a professor at the Yale School of Public Health, said in an interview with The Washington Post.

[What is the safest and most effective vaccine against COVID-19]

Hydroxychloroquine was the drug pushed by former President Donald Trump and several public figures during the early stages of the pandemic.

"I'm afraid we're heading down that road right now with ivermectin," Parikh warned.

  • What is ivermectin and what is it for?

The drug is commonly used as an antiparasitic for

a wide range of animals

, such as dogs, cats, horses, and livestock in general, and it comes in various forms, such as injectables, ointments, or liquids.

Ivermectin tablets are FDA approved

for humans in the treatment of some parasites

, such as roundworms.

It is also used in topical treatments for external parasites (lice) and to help skin conditions (rosacea).

COVID-19: doctor explains the risks of using ivermectin as a treatment against the virus

Feb. 1, 202101: 20

Ivermectin for animals can be purchased online or at vets without a prescription, which has raised

concerns that people are self-medicating


  • What is the effectiveness against COVID-19 

There is no reliable research that leads experts to recommend the use of ivermectin to prevent or treat coronavirus.

The FDA has not approved it for any viral diseases. 

Even Merck, a pharmaceutical company that makes ivermectin, said its experts continue to review the available data but have so far

found "no scientific basis for a possible effect"

in the coronavirus treatment. 

The World Health Organization recommends using ivermectin only for clinical trials to test its efficacy in people with coronavirus.

But the results of the studies are not promising. 

A group of independent international experts analyzed

16 clinical trials involving 2,407

outpatients and inpatients with COVID-19 who received treatment with the drug.

They concluded that

there was no reliable evidence that it reduces the chances of dying from the virus or of needing assisted respiration


The patients also did not show faster improvement or required less time of hospitalization. 

A box of ivermectin at a pharmacy in Georgia, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. AP Photo |

Mike StewartAP / AP

There are more clinical trials published and ongoing, but highly controversial.

At least one large study that reported benefits in the use of the drug was discredited after complaints of plagiarism and data manipulation.

  • Where does the belief that it is effective against the virus comes from

In the United States, personalities such as comedian Joe Rogan have recommended it to millions of people against COVID-19.

In Ohio, a judge had to stop a woman's request to force a hospital to give the dewormer to her sick husband. 

The dangerous theory that ivermectin was used to fight the virus began to take hold at the height of the pandemic and from the other side of the world.

In the spring of 2020, researchers in Australia observed that

the drug could kill the virus in a laboratory setting

, but with certain caveats and caveats. 

The amount needed to have an effect against the virus is greater than that recommended for humans.

And an experiment with the virus on a plate in a laboratory is not the same as the effect of the drug inside the human body, experts say. 

Despite the warnings, the drug continues to be used.

In countries like Nicaragua, disinformation is spread by public authorities.

The Ministry of Health (Minsa) has distributed tablets from house to house and has ordered doctors to deliver them to patients with symptoms related to COVID-19, including pregnant women, the newspaper La Prensa denounced this Friday.

5-year-old boy dies of COVID-19 in California


11, 202101: 44

The use of the drug may be an effect of desperation for a cure for the coronavirus. 


For those who are frustrated, anxious, scared, it is understandable that they are trying to find something.

" Parikh explained A drug with a little scientific information behind it, relatively accessible and that can serve as a placebo, may become popular in today's context. 

  • What's the risk of trying ivermectin anyway 

"People believe that it is a miracle cure or that it is highly dangerous and the reality is that it is neither of the two things", explained to the newspaper David Boulware, professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota.

The drug is safe at recommended doses for humans, but when the animal version is consumed, the concentrations are high and have other components, which can cause serious effects. 

Too much ivermectin can lead to

nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension, allergic reactions, dizziness, balance problems, seizures, coma and death

, according to the FDA.

Also, even at approved doses, ivermectin can interact with other medications, such as common blood thinners.

And its long-term use has not been rigorously studied.

"People should never take veterinary drugs," warns the FDA.

Health authorities have received multiple reports of

patients who have required medical assistance and have been hospitalized

after self-medicating with ivermectin for horses.

An adult recently drank an injectable version of ivermectin for use in cattle, thinking it would prevent a coronavirus infection, the CDC indicates, and suffered confusion, drowsiness, visual hallucinations, tremors and rapid breathing.

He had to be hospitalized for nine days.

The unvaccinated are 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19, CDC says


11, 202101: 45

[Comedian Joe Rogan claims to have been treated with a discredited horse drug] 

Patients with COVID-19 may also

run the risk of not taking other drugs that do have



against the virus, such as monoclonal antibodies. 


We already have something that has gone through all the regulatory requirements and all the high-level reviews, and that is the vaccine

," Parikh noted. 

With information from The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

Anyone experiencing symptoms of ivermectin overdose should seek immediate medical attention or call the Poison Control Hotline at (800) 222-1222.

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2021-09-13

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