Ivermectin shows us the consequences of politicized science

Last November, Egyptian scientists published a study suggesting that ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug used to prevent heartworm in dogs and river blindness in humans, was supposedly effective in reducing COVID-19 mortality by 90 percent.The study attracted substantial interest from physicians and scientists around the world who were starving for solutions to the COVID crisis. The study has been cited as an argument to treat “thousands, or perhaps even millions” of people around the world with ivermectin. It was even cited in Congressional testimony about the need to fast-track widespread distribution of this so-called “miracle drug” for COVID-19.

Unfortunately, ivermectin is not a miracle cure. At best, the Egyptian study was poorly performed and partially plagiarized; at worst, the data were outright fraudulent. The study had faced substantial criticism since its release, and was recently retracted by the preprint website where it was published. Subsequent meta-analyses that partially relied on the data in the original study have also come under intense scrutiny. While ivermectin’s side-effects are (thankfully) mild, minimal evidence supports its use over any random medication in your home medicine cabinet in the fight against COVID-19.

This bears repeating: even in hospitals that have used ivermectin as a last-ditch attempt to help COVID-19 victims, there is little to no peer-reviewed data supporting its use.