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What’s the latest misinformation going around concerning the pandemic, you may be wondering. You remember the pandemic, right? While four people were dying in the insurrection in Washington, the pandemic was killing almost 3,900 other people. So what are your elderly relatives reading about on the Intertoobz? Try ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug for animals and people that is the latest instant magic bullet among people who attend medical school between Wheel of Fortune and reruns of Matlock. And it’s not just random people, either. Governments in Central and South America have been handing it out so fast that researchers can’t keep up to study its effects. From Nature:
The drug has been so in demand that in May, health-care workers passed out some 350,000 doses to residents in northern Bolivia. That same month, the Peruvian police seized around 20,000 bottles of animal-grade ivermectin that was sold on the black market as a treatment for human coronavirus infections. And in July, a university in Peru announced that it would produce 30,000 doses to bolster the country’s supply. But the evidence that ivermectin protects people from COVID-19 is scant. Some early studies in cells and humans hinted that the drug has antiviral properties, but since then, clinical trials in Latin America have struggled to recruit participants because so many are already taking it.
And, in rural parts of this country, people are buying it up—not at pharmacies, but at farm-equipment outlets, where they pick up the variety of the drug meant for farm animals. Back in April, the state of Michigan sent out a caution about ivermectin:
“We understand Michiganders’ concerns about COVID-19 and the desire to find a cure quickly,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “However, there are no approved preventive medications for COVID-19 in humans, and we do not want anyone being harmed by taking medications inappropriately. Staying home and practicing good public health practices like washing hands frequently, wearing a homemade mask if you must go out, and covering coughs and sneezes appropriately is the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
Warnings from these state agencies follow similar warnings from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which sent a letter to stakeholders on April 10. In the letter, the FDA states it is “concerned about the health of consumers who may self-medicate by taking ivermectin products intended for animals, thinking they can be a substitute for ivermectin intended for humans. People should never take animal drugs, as the FDA has only evaluated their safety and effectiveness in the particular animal species for which they are labeled. These animal drugs can cause serious harm in people. People should not take any form of ivermectin unless it has been prescribed to them by a licensed health care provider and is obtained through a legitimate source.
“People should never take animal drugs.”
This time in history has too many epigrams.
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