what is ivermectin and why everyone is talking about it


I’m from a different country and I have no idea what is this

In: Biology

It’s a horse deworming medicine, there was some study that showed it prevents COVID-19 replication in cell culture. So some antivaxers thought it’s a miracle cure and started taking it. The catch is the required dosage to cure COVID is so high it’s also poisonous to people, so you can guess what happens next.

The drug Ivermectin is normally used to treat parasites. But it was also discovered that it had a small effect on coronavirus as well. Labs were able to kill the virus in test tubes using Ivermectin but only at doses much higher then the lethal dose for humans. However since Ivermectin is used to treat parasites in animals as well it is not hard to get a hold of the drug and in large enough quantities to treat horses or even entire cattle herds. So people who are misinformed about these lab tests are injecting lethal amounts of Ivermectin in an attempt at curing their coronavirus infection.

Ivermectin is a drug developed in the 70s that is used to treat parasitic infections (such as head lice or various worms). It messes with the nerves of insects and similar parasitic creatures, and is quite common for use both for people and other animals (notably horses, dogs, cows etc.).

Ivermectin has shown some effectiveness in treating some viral infections, and there is very limited evidence that in very high doses (unsafe levels) it may have some effect against the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the one causing Covid-19). But best evidence at the moment suggests that is as likely to seriously harm the person as it is to stop the virus.

The psychology of conspiracy theories is quite complicated and not fully understood. There seems to be a desire for people to have “simple solutions” – a single drug that can cure things, or for them to have some special knowledge. Combine that with individuals gaining power and money from conspiracy theories, and you have a huge mess.

There is a conspiracy theory (based on some very dodgy if not fraudulent scientific research) that Ivermectin can treat Covid-19 and that authorities are trying to suppress this. Conspiracy theories are rarely consistent (they don’t have to be), so the reason for this varies, but it is usually something to do with the vaccine conspiracy theories. Ivermectin is the latest in a long list of “miracle cures” that conspiracy theorists and extremists (particularly those related to the QAnon cult) have been pushing. You might remember disgraced former US President Trump advocating for the use of bleach and hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 (both of which were really bad ideas).

The Ivermectin conspiracy theory seems to have got out of control (particularly in South Africa) and some countries have buckled to public pressure and allowed it for emergency use in “treating” Covid-19 despite the lack of evidence that it is effective (and the significant evidence that it is dangerous). Czechia, Slovakia, Mexico, and the Philippines have apparently all done this. Peru and India did as well, but have subsequently withdrawn approval.

In the US (with all its existing problems with conspiracy theories and disinformation) the Ivermectin conspiracy seems to have spread quite widely (particularly among anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, and anti-government groups, and followers of the pro-conspiracy Republican Party), and people have been taking it at unsafe doses, including taking the versions designed for cows and other domestic animals, leading to some serious health problems. The US Federal Government issued a statement telling people not to take Ivermectin designed for animals, but this seems to have fuelled the conspiracy.

Ivermectin is a drug widely used to treat parasitic infections in humans and other animals. There is some inconclusive evidence that it may be useful in treating C-19. Studies are in progress now that attempt to gather more data on this. 20 countries currently allow its use for covid treatment. The rest of the world does not.

If you have never used PubMed, it is a database of pretty much all the medical research collected by the U.S. National Institutes oh Health, and anyone can search it here:

If you are up for reading scientific papers, it’s a much better way of getting reliable information then asking people on Reddit.

Because its not approved for covid treatment in the U.S., some doctors will prescribe it and some will not. A small number of people who wanted it and could not get it bought over-the-counter preparations intended for large animals, and took far more than any human being should. This is a very very bad thing and you should not do it. But it got a lot of attention mainly because government organizations had to put out notices asking people to stop.