Nearly every major medical organization has warned against self-medicating with ivermectin, a deworming drug with both veterinary and human medical uses, to treat covid-19.
Nevertheless, there remains a persistent belief, particularly on social media, in this drug's curative properties. Credible medical research does not currently support a benefit. But if you're still thinking about giving it a try, please consider a far safer alternative: enrolling in a clinical trial evaluating the effectiveness of ivermectin against the coronavirus.
You could even earn $400 for completing one of them: the multisite COVID-OUT trial led by the University of Minnesota Medical School. Researchers there are evaluating ivermectin and two other medications -- fluvoxamine and metformin -- as outpatient treatments to prevent severe covid-19.
Participants are randomly assigned to one of six possible treatment groups. To be eligible, you must have received a positive covid-19 test in the last three days, be between the ages of 30 and 85, and not be hospitalized. Medications, in doses properly calculated for personal use, are shipped for free to your home. No in-person clinic or office visit is required. Nor do you have to live in Minnesota to participate. To enroll, go to bit.ly/396FlnZ.
Ivermectin's persistence as panacea reflects the dismal abundance of covid-19 disinformation. But it also reflects the reality that deep into the pandemic, there's a dearth of options for the newly infected.
The vaccine remains the gold standard for prevention. But it's important to expand early treatments to keep those with covid-19 out of the hospital.
Monoclonal antibodies appear to reduce hospitalization risk by 70% in high-risk unvaccinated people who become infected. But if other medications can improve on that, or could be deployed globally to areas where monoclonal antibodies or vaccines are not accessible. we should continue looking for them.
Conversely, if certain medications do not help, research can authoritatively rule them out. That may be the situation with ivermectin.
Early studies suggested the drug could inhibit the coronavirus in a petri dish. That doesn't always translate to a real-world benefit, particularly when the concentration used was much higher than what humans could tolerate. One large study that raised hope by showing a positive effect in people was retracted after serious questions about its methodology.
Other studies suggesting ivermectin has some benefit have been small or raise more questions than answers.
In addition to the COVID-OUT research, there's another clinical trial evaluating ivermectin as an early treatment. It's called the ACTIV-6 study (more info at bit.ly/2XtjJjj), and it is evaluating ivermectin along with fluvoxamine (an antidepressant) and fluticasone (an inhaled steroid).
Enrolling in a trial is the safest option for those interested in ivermectin, and it contributes to a noble cause: advancing scientific knowledge.