CLAIM: The anti-parasitic drug ivermectin “has a miraculous effectiveness that obliterates” the transmission of COVID-19 and will prevent people from getting sick.
THE FACTS: During a Senate hearing Tuesday, a group of doctors touted alternative COVID-19 treatments, including ivermectin and the anti-malaria medication hydroxychloroquine. Medical experts have cautioned against using either of those drugs to treat COVID-19.
Studies have shown that hydroxychloroquine has no benefit against the coronavirus and can have serious side effects. There is no evidence that ivermectin has been proved a safe or effective treatment against COVID-19. Yet, Dr. Pierre Kory, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at Aurora St Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee, described ivermectin as a “wonder drug” with immensely powerful antiviral and anti-inflammatory agents, at the hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Clips of Kory’s comments on ivermectin during the hearing were shared widely on social media, with one clip receiving more than 1 million views on YouTube. Ivermectin is approved in the U.S. in tablet form to treat parasitic worms, as well as a topical solution to treat external parasites. The drug also is available for animals.
The Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health have said that the drug is not approved for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. According to the FDA, side effects for the drug include skin rash, nausea and vomiting.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins University, said most of the research around ivermectin at the moment is made up of anecdotes and studies that are not the gold standard in terms of how to use ivermectin.
“We need to get much more data before we can say this is a definitive treatment,” he said. “We would like to see more data before I recommend it to my patients.”
Kory told The Associated Press that he stands by the comments he made at the hearing, saying that he was not trying to promote the drug, but rather, the data around it.
In June, Australian researchers published the findings of a study that found that ivermectin inhibited the replication of SARS-CoV-2 in a laboratory setting, which is not the same as testing the drug on humans or animals. After the study, the FDA released a letter out of concern, warning consumers not to self-medicate with ivermectin products intended for animals.