In the News

We must use all available means to stop COVID-19, including ivermectin

By Neal Dunn

Over a year-and-a-half into the pandemic, America has hit a grim milestone: COVID-19 deaths have surpassed those from the 1918 flu, once our country’s deadliest outbreak.

This news lands as a devastating gut punch, even as we mark incredible progress with effective vaccines that are protecting over 100 million Americans. It is clear that COVID-19 has become endemic, and our success will require a new strategy of employing every single safe and effective medicine to fight this disease.

One of these is human-use ivermectin. Many studies show that this orally administered generic drug, initially approved to treat parasitic infections in the 1970s, is effective in treating early COVID-19. The latest evidence comes from India. The drug was made widely available among the 241 million citizens in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, and COVID-19 infections and deaths have subsequently been effectively controlled.

After nearly a year of widespread use of ivermectin for early treatment of COVID-19-positive patients and members of their households, the latest round of surveillance testing among 226,000 residents resulted in only 11 positive cases. In early September, not a single new case had been reported among 67 of Uttar Pradesh’s 75 districts.

Data continues to mount demonstrating ivermectin’s efficacy against COVID-19. It is being deployed as part of the strategy to fight the pandemic in countries around the world, including Mexico, Peru and two large states in Argentina.

But even as the body of evidence in other countries grows, the opposition to not only using ivermectin but even discussing it in America multiplies.

To be clear, when I refer to the potential benefits of ivermectin, I am only suggesting that human-use ivermectin be considered. There has been talk of “horse paste” and purchasing ivermectin from farm stores. I unequivocally do not recommend humans use a medicine that is prepared and sold for use in animals.

Further, the decision to use any treatment for COVID-19 should be made after consultation with a trusted medical professional. If prescribed by a licensed and trusted medical professional, any medication should only be used specifically as prescribed.

However, the mere mention of ivermectin can get you banned from major social media platforms. Evolutionary biologist Bret Weinstein’s podcast was yanked from YouTube for discussing the drug. Federal authorities are arrayed against it. And the American Medical Association called for the “immediate end” of any use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 patients with no research to support their stance.

Some media outlets are so eager to discredit the drug they embraced an easily debunked story about ivermectin overdoses in Oklahoma.

Thousands of physicians working on the front lines of this pandemic — honest, intelligent, caring professionals working tirelessly to care for patients with COVID-19 — want the option of administering ivermectin. Yet they are widely discouraged, even demonized, by some public health professionals and even President Biden, who obliquely tarred physicians using ivermectin as “conspiracy theorists” and implied they are not “real doctors.”

Regardless of how many patients these physicians have cared for in the course of their careers, or how many people they have successfully treated with ivermectin, they face the loss of their livelihoods if they discuss it publicly.

The Federation of State Medical Boards, which represents 71 medical boards across America, for example, warned doctors that recommending ivermectin, which the organization labels “medical misinformation,” may result in the suspension of the offending physician’s medical license.

It is worth asking: Why? This FDA-approved medicine has been used nearly 4 billion times in humans, spanning 45 years to treat numerous diseases. A standard 12-milligram dose costs 6 cents to manufacture. It is considered one of the safest medicines in history. The Japanese scientist who discovered it won the Nobel Prize for that achievement in 2015.

With growing evidence that the drug can safely treat a virus that is now the deadliest in American history, why not empower doctors and patients to use it? At the very least, it is inappropriate to shut down scientific discussion of its merits.

The federal government refuses to follow the scientific evidence and take a comprehensive approach to fighting COVID-19. States should use every tool at their disposal to ensure patient access to treatment.

I urge every governor to follow Florida’s example and uphold the sacred physician-patient relationship that gives doctors and patients the freedom to choose what’s best for them. That means encouraging residents to get vaccinated and giving them the option for treatment with monoclonal antibodies, ivermectin and a number of other repurposed medicines that are proving effective against COVID-19.

Over 700,000 Americans have lost their lives in this pandemic. That number will grow. We must use every available means to stop this virus.

What are we waiting for?

Republican Neal P. Dunn is a medical doctor and represents Florida’s Second Congressional district.