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Madison Czopek
By Madison Czopek October 25, 2021

No, the National Institutes of Health hasn’t approved ivermectin to treat COVID-19

If Your Time is short

• The National Institutes of Health has not recommended ivermectin to treat COVID-19.

• The NIH says more research is needed to make a determination about whether ivermectin is effective against COVID-19.

Despite repeated attempts to debunk misinformation about the anti-parasitic ivermectin as a  purported COVID-19 treatment, false claims about the drug persist online.

"NIH COVID Treatment Guidelines Approve Ivermectin," reads an Oct. 21 Instagram post

The post goes on to say that the National Institutes of Health made a "silent" update to a key website, indicating that ivermectin is one of the "antiviral agents that are approved or under evaluation for the treatment of COVID-19."

The 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.)

Has the NIH approved ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment? No. 

The NIH is a central access point for much of the latest COVID-19 research — including research into treatments that are approved or being studied.

A page on the NIH website provides information about antiviral therapies that are being evaluated, or have been evaluated, as possible treatments for COVID-19. But the site makes clear that the NIH has not approved or recommended ivermectin to treat COVID-19. 

"Remdesivir is the only Food and Drug Administration-approved drug for the treatment of COVID-19," reads the NIH’s summary recommendations

The page includes the language from the post — "Antiviral Drugs That Are Approved or Under Evaluation for the Treatment of COVID-19" — and was last updated on July 8. But it does not indicate that ivermectin is an approved treatment.

Here’s what it does say:

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"There is insufficient evidence for the Panel to recommend 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."

Another page of the site specifically about ivermectin says it more clearly: 

"Ivermectin is not approved by the FDA for the treatment of any viral infection."

The NIH’s ivermectin page says some randomized trials and studies of ivermectin in COVID-19 patients have showed "no benefits or worsening of disease," while others showed varying levels of effectiveness, ranging from: "shorter time to resolution of disease manifestations that were attributed to COVID-19, greater reduction in inflammatory marker levels, shorter time to viral clearance, or lower mortality rates in patients who received ivermectin than in patients who received comparator drugs or placebo."

A spokesperson for the NIH noted that the ivermectin page of the NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines was last updated on Feb. 11, and the clinical data was updated July 19. The NIH "doesn’t silently update" its pages, she said. 

"We update them regularly to ensure they are current," the spokesperson said. "The date they are last updated is included on the page." 

For the COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines in particular, she said people can sign up for updates so they are notified whenever there is a change on the page.

In explaining why it decided not to recommend ivermectin as a treatment, the NIH’s COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel said studies suggesting the drug was effective "had incomplete information and significant methodological limitations, which make it difficult to exclude common causes of bias." 

Clinical trials to assess the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 are "currently underway or in development," according to the NIH. 

Our ruling 

A post claimed, "NIH COVID Treatment Guidelines Approve Ivermectin."

The NIH includes ivermectin on a list of drugs that are being evaluated as COVID-19 possible treatments. But its Treatment Guidelines Panel has not recommended "for or against" the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19, citing the need for more clinical trials. 

We rate this claim False.

Our Sources

Instagram post, Oct. 21, 2021

PolitiFact, "Fact-checking claim about the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19," April 23, 2021

PolitiFact, "Japan has not approved ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment, and it's still using Moderna vaccine," Sept. 14, 2021

PolitiFact, "No evidence yet concluding that ivermectin is an effective COVID-19 treatment," Aug. 10, 2021

National Institutes of Health, "Who We Are," accessed Oct. 24, 2021 

NIH, "COVID-19 Therapeutics Prioritized for Testing in Clinical Trials," accessed Oct. 24, 2021

NIH, "Antiviral Therapy," accessed Oct. 24, 2021

NIH, "Antiviral Drugs That Are Approved or Under Evaluation for the Treatment of COVID-19," accessed Oct. 24, 2021

NIH, "COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines - Ivermectin," accessed Oct. 24, 2021

Email exchange with Renate Myles, acting director of the National Institutes of Health’s office of communications and public liaison, Oct. 25, 2021

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No, the National Institutes of Health hasn’t approved ivermectin to treat COVID-19

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