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Miriam Valverde
By Miriam Valverde April 23, 2021

Fact-checking claim about the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19

If Your Time is short

  • Some limited studies suggest that ivermectin can help treat COVID-19; others show no significant impact. Many of the studies had small sample sizes and other limitations. 

  • Federal health and drug agencies say that more research is needed before making a definitive conclusion about ivermectin’s efficacy against COVID-19. 

  • The FDA has not approved ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.

An Instagram post claims that the coronavirus pandemic was planned and that "they gave you the virus on purpose" to initiate a new world order. The post needs some fact-checking.

"They don’t have to poison you, they can cure you but they choose not to," says part of the caption on the April 22 Instagram post.

The caption accompanies a nearly 9-minute video featuring Dr. Pierre Kory, a critical care specialist and co-founder of Frontline COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, a group of doctors who advocate for the use of the drug ivermectin to treat COVID-19.

The Instagram post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The video in the Instagram post is from Kory’s Dec. 8 testimony before a U.S. Senate committee. He argues that while the National Institutes of Health in August 2020 said ivermectin should not be used outside of control trials, new evidence showed that the drug is effective against the coronavirus.

"We are now in December, this is three to four months later," Kory says in the video. "Mountains of data have emerged from many centers and countries around the world showing the miraculous effectiveness of ivermectin, it basically obliterates transmission of this virus. If you take it, you will not get sick."

About a week after Kory’s testimony, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that people should not take ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19. A recent study had examined the use of the drug in a laboratory setting, the FDA said, but additional testing was necessary to determine whether it was appropriate to use against COVID-19.

The FDA still has not approved ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19.

Ivermectin is not a drug used to treat viral infections, and taking large doses of it can be dangerous, the FDA said.

The FDA has approved ivermectin tablets to treat people with certain conditions caused by parasitic worms. Topical forms of ivermectin have been approved to treat head lice and certain skin conditions. Separately, some forms of ivermectin are used in animals to prevent heartworm disease and parasites. Ivermectin products for animals are different from the ivermectin products for humans. The FDA says people should not use medication intended for animals.

Studies have examined whether ivermectin can be an effective tool in the fight against COVID-19. But, according to federal health and drug agencies, more research is needed.

The NIH in February said that some clinical studies showed no benefits or worsening of disease after ivermectin use; other studies suggested using ivermectin had some benefits. "However, most of these studies had incomplete information and significant methodological limitations, which make it difficult to exclude common causes of bias," the NIH said.

Overall, the NIH said that insufficient data prevented a federal panel from recommending either for or against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19.

"Results from adequately powered, well-designed, and well-conducted clinical trials are needed to provide more specific, evidence-based guidance on the role of ivermectin in the treatment of COVID-19," the NIH said.

In March, the FDA published a post titled, "Why you should not use ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19." It said that "some initial research is underway," but the agency still had not approved ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19 in humans.

"There’s a lot of misinformation around, and you may have heard that it’s okay to take large doses of ivermectin. That is wrong," the FDA said.

People can overdose on ivermectin, and the drug can also interact with other medications, like blood thinners, according to the FDA.

The Infectious Diseases Society of America, representing physicians, scientists and public health experts who specialize in infectious diseases, reviewed several studies regarding ivermectin and COVID-19. According to information last updated in February, the panel recommended against treatment of COVID-19 with ivermectin outside of the context of a clinical trial. One of the concerns raised by the panel was that some trials did not adequately randomize people into treatment and control groups.

"The panel determined the certainty of evidence of treatment of ivermectin for hospitalized and non-hospitalized patients to be very low due to concerns with risk of bias and imprecision," the Infectious Diseases Society of America said.

Our ruling

An Instagram post featured a video claiming that "mountains of data" show that ivermectin "basically obliterates" COVID-19 transmission.

Some studies suggest that ivermectin can help treat COVID-19; others show no significant impact. Many of the studies had small sample sizes and other limitations. U.S. health and drug agencies say that more research is needed before making a definitive conclusion about ivermectin’s efficacy against COVID-19. The FDA has not approved ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.

Groups that have analyzed studies about ivermectin and COVID-19 caution about bias and limitations in the trials.

Subsequent studies may show positive outcomes from ivermectin. Currently, there are no "mountains of data" to show its benefit. The existing evidence is limited and documents mixed results. We rate the statement False. 

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Fact-checking claim about the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19

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