Fact Check: Is ivermectin safe for use in humans to treat COVID-19?

*The following article should not be taken as medical advice and can never replace the guidance of your doctor or medical professional

Recent media reports have blasted the notion of using ivermectin to treat SARS-CoV-2, dismissing the drug as nothing more than a horse dewormer while ignoring its decades-long history of successful use in treating disease in humans.

Podcaster Joe Rogan made headlines after announcing that he contracted COVID-19. He told his followers on Saturday that he got tested after feeling run down and experiencing “fevers and sweats.” He went on to say he “threw the kitchen sink at it” by taking a whole host of medicines to combat the virus.

“Monoclonal antibodies, ivermectin, Z-pack, prednisone – everything. I also got an NAD drip and a vitamin drip, and I did that three days in a row, and here we are on Wednesday, and I feel great,” Rogan said.

Immediately, the media took aim at Rogan for promoting ivermectin, a drug that most outlets are dismissing as a livestock dewormer. NPR tweeted a scathing rebuke of Rogan’s comments, going after him not only for taking ivermectin, but also accusing him of dismissing COVID-19 vaccines despite the fact that Rogan himself is vaccinated.

“No, you should not ingest ivermectin, a drug formulated for cows and horses to treat parasites. No, it is not proven to prevent or treat COVID. The FDA is urging people to stop ingesting the livestock version, which can cause nausea, neurological disorders and severe hepatitis,” NPR said on Twitter.

So what is ivermectin? Is it used to treat humans? Has it been used to treat COVID-19 successfully? We looked through multiple medical journals to find out what the scientific community knows about the controversial drug and see why the media is so quick to dismiss it.

Ivermectin has been around for decades.

An article published in the Proceedings of the Japan Academy, Series BPhysical and Biological Sciences from 2011 entitled, “Ivermectin, ‘Wonder drug’ from Japan: the human use perspective” notes that the drug was discovered in the 1970s.

“The pioneering drug ivermectin, a dihydro derivative of avermectin—originating solely from a single microorganism isolated at the Kitasato Institute, Tokyo, Japan from Japanese soil—has had an immeasurably beneficial impact in improving the lives and welfare of billions of people throughout the world,” the article states.

The article’s authors, Andy Crump and Satoshi Ōmura note that ivermectin was originally introduced as a veterinary drug. “It kills a wide range of internal and external parasites in commercial livestock and companion animals. It was quickly discovered to be ideal in combating two of the world’s most devastating and disfiguring diseases (Onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis) which have plagued the world’s poor throughout the tropics for centuries,” they write.

Onchocerciasis is also known as river blindness in many remote villages in Africa. It causes skin rashes, eye disease, or nodules under the skin. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the disease is “commonly treated with an oral medicine called ivermectin.”

“[Ivermectin] has also been used to successfully overcome several other human diseases and new uses for it are continually being found,” they added.

Ivermectin improved the nutrition, general health, and well-being of “billions of people worldwide” since it was first used to treat Onchocerciasis in humans in 1988, the article states. “It proved ideal in many ways, being highly effective and broad-spectrum, safe, well-tolerated and could be easily administered (a single, annual oral dose).”

The American Journal of Therapeutics published an article entitled, “Ivermectin for Prevention and Treatment of COVID-19 Infection: A Systematic Review, Meta-analysis, and Trial Sequential Analysis to Inform Clinical Guidelines” in June.

The authors, Andrew Bryant, MSc, et al., found that “Ivermectin is a well-known medicine that is approved as an antiparasitic by the World Health Organization and the US Food and Drug Administration.”

“It is widely used in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to treat worm infections,” they added.

The authors also noted that ivermectin is used to treat scabies and lice in humans and is listed as one of the “World Health Organization’s Essential Medicines.”

“Ivermectin is a well-known medicine that is approved as an antiparasitic by the World Health Organization and the US Food and Drug Administration,” the article’s authors wrote. “It is widely used in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to treat worm infections.”

Properly prescribed dosage is essential to using ivermectin safely.

“Ivermectin at the usual doses (0.2–0.4 mg/kg) is considered extremely safe for use in humans,” the articles notes. “In addition to its antiparasitic activity, it has been noted to have antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, leading to an increasing list of therapeutic indications.”

The Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance summarized its findings of 27 studies on the effects of ivermectin for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 finding that ivermectin “demonstrates a strong signal of therapeutic efficacy” against COVID-19. Another review found that ivermectin reduced deaths by 75%.

The article concluded that “Moderate-certainty evidence finds that large reductions in COVID-19 deaths are possible using ivermectin,” and added that “meta-analysis of 15 trials found that ivermectin reduced risk of death compared with no ivermectin.”

They also found that “using ivermectin early in the clinical course may reduce numbers progressing to severe disease.”

“The apparent safety and low cost suggest that ivermectin is likely to have a significant impact on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic globally,” the authors noted.

Ivermectin has anti-viral properties despite MSM outlets claiming that it doesn’t.

CNBC published an article entitled, “Joe Rogan says he has Covid, took widely discredited drug ivermectin.” In that article, they claim that “Ivermectin, which is not an anti-viral drug, is generally used to treat or prevent parasites in animals such as horses.” They ignore the tremendous benefits that ivermectin has had on millions of people around the world.

Despite CNBC’s declaration that ivermectin is not an anti-viral, Bryant, et al., write that “Ivermectin has exhibited antiviral activity against a wide range of RNA and some DNA viruses, for example, Zika, dengue, yellow fever, and others.” They urge further investigation into ivermectin and its antiviral activity against COVID-19.

Studies looking into ivermectin’s ability to stop the replication of SARS-CoV-2 found that the drug is an “inhibitor of the causative virus (SARS-CoV-2),” according to an article published in the Elsevier Public Health Emergency Collection, entitled, “The FDA-approved drug ivermectin inhibits the replication of SARS-CoV-2 in vitro.”

“Results demonstrate that ivermectin has antiviral action against the SARS-CoV-2 clinical isolate in vitro, with a single dose able to control viral replication within 24–48 hours in our system,” the article states. “Ivermectin, therefore, warrants further investigation for possible benefits in humans.”

So what does the Food and Drug administration say about ivermectin?

“There seems to be a growing interest in a drug called ivermectin to treat humans with COVID-19. Ivermectin is often used in the U.S. to treat or prevent parasites in animals,” the FDA says. “It’s important to note that these products are different from the ones for people, and safe when used as prescribed for animals, only.”

“The FDA has received multiple reports of patients who have required medical support and been hospitalized after self-medicating with ivermectin intended for horses,” the FDA site continues. The FDA also claims that ivermectin is not an anti-viral, despite various studies finding that it has anti-viral properties. “Taking large doses of this drug is dangerous and can cause serious harm,” the FDA warns.

Ivermectin has more benefits to humans than the media is admitting

Certainly the use of ivermectin and its ability to treat COVID-19 bears further examination and study. However, there seem to be more benefits to the “wonder drug” than the mainstream media has been reporting to the American people, particularly its known benefits in treating select diseases in humans, as well as its established and widely accepted reputation for safe use in humans.

As always, each individual should consult their doctor or medical provider before taking any new medications.