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A syringe of ivermectin has many advocates who see it as an over-the-counter alternative for preventing or treating COVID-19, but they tend to ignore contrary evidence or tout flawed research. (AP) A syringe of ivermectin has many advocates who see it as an over-the-counter alternative for preventing or treating COVID-19, but they tend to ignore contrary evidence or tout flawed research. (AP)

A syringe of ivermectin has many advocates who see it as an over-the-counter alternative for preventing or treating COVID-19, but they tend to ignore contrary evidence or tout flawed research. (AP)

Monique Curet
By Monique Curet April 13, 2022

Scientific evidence does not support ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19

If Your Time is short

A recently published large clinical trial found that ivermectin did not decrease either hospitalizations or prolonged emergency room stays among COVID-19 patients.

Earlier research had significant limitations: Initial studies were small, and one study that reviewed results from nearly two dozen trials was later retracted.

• Ivermectin is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for prevention or treatment of COVID-19.

Despite a lack of scientific evidence, proponents of using ivermectin to treat COVID-19 continue to claim that the drug is a viable option.

One April 6 post on Facebook suggests ivermectin is an effective treatment for the virus.

"Despite doctor testimonials, clinical trials and international studies showing the efficacy of ivermectin, mainstream media continues to suppress info regarding the drug as a treatment for COVID-19," says the post from One America News, a conservative cable news service. The post is an ad for an April 9 program on the network, and it continues, "What is the history and the benefits of ivermectin? Tune in for the facts!"

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

But scientific evidence does not support the use of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19. A large clinical trial published March 30, 2022, in the New England Journal of Medicine found that ivermectin did not decrease either hospitalizations or prolonged emergency room stays among COVID-19 patients.

Other, earlier research of the drug had significant limitations: Initial studies were small, with just a few hundred participants, and one analysis of nearly two dozen trials was later retracted.

Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic drug that is used in humans to treat conditions known as river blindness and lymphatic filariasis. Some forms are also used in animals to prevent heartworm disease and parasites.

The drug is not approved by the FDA for prevention or treatment of COVID-19.

The New England Journal of Medicine trial was double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled, considered the "gold standard" of studies. In the trial, 3,515 symptomatic COVID-19 patients were recruited from 12 public health clinics in Brazil and given either ivermectin, a placebo or another intervention.

"The administration of ivermectin did not result in a lower incidence of medical admission to a hospital or (lower incidence of) prolonged emergency department observation for Covid-19 among outpatients at high risk for serious illness," the study said.

Experts noted that while other trials of ivermectin are ongoing, they "doubted that the additional trials would come to a different conclusion, since the (Brazil) trial was so large and carefully designed," the New York Times reported.

Earlier studies of the drug had at most a few hundred participants, and "small studies can be vulnerable to statistical flukes that suggest positive effects where none actually exist," according to the New York Times. 

A December 2020 study that reviewed results from 23 trials initially seemed to show positive outcomes from use of ivermectin, but "reports surfaced that many of the studies (that were) included in the analysis were flawed and, in at least one case, alleged to be fraudulent," the New York Times reported. The study was retracted, and when the authors did a new, more rigorous version of it, "ivermectin’s benefit vanished."

Our ruling

A Facebook post suggests ivermectin is an effective treatment for COVID-19.

Scientific evidence does not support the use of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19.

We rate this claim False. 

Our Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Ivermectin Products are Not Approved by FDA to Prevent or Treat COVID-19," accessed April 13, 2022

Facebook post, April 6, 2022

Indian Journal of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS, "Randomized double blind placebo control studies, the "Gold Standard" in intervention based studies," July 2012

New England Journal of Medicine, "Effect of Early Treatment with Ivermectin among Patients with Covid-19," March 30, 2022

New York Times, "Ivermectin Does Not Reduce Risk of Covid Hospitalization, Large Study Finds," March 30, 2022

PolitiFact, "A Nobel Prize and a horse dewormer: Explaining the controversy over ivermectin and COVID-19," Sept. 8, 2021

PolitiFact, "One America News," accessed April 13, 2022

Stat, "Ivermectin for Covid-19: abundance of hype, dearth of evidence," Aug. 25, 2021

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Scientific evidence does not support ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19

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