Before we ring in 2023, we look back at the most popular articles that we posted to our website in 2022.
In response to a civil suit, lawyers for the Food and Drug Administration described the agency’s warnings about the unapproved use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 as “recommendations.” Although that description doesn’t reveal new information, some conservative outlets have falsely claimed it’s an “outrageous” revelation and a change in the FDA’s position.
The National Institutes of Health has not recommended and the Food and Drug Administration has not approved ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment. But a Facebook post misleadingly implies that an article published on the NIH website is an endorsement of the drug to treat COVID-19. The NIH and FDA have said more clinical studies are needed.
A Japanese company found that the antiparasitic drug ivermectin showed an “antiviral effect” against the omicron variant in a lab setting. Reuters has corrected a story in which it “misstated” that the drug was effective in a phase 3 clinical trial with human subjects. Some social media users have repeated Reuters’ reporting error but have not repeated the correction.
More than 70% of Japan’s population has received the COVID-19 vaccines, and the government is moving ahead with a booster shot in December. But a conservative radio host in the U.S. falsely claimed, “Japan drops vax rollout, goes to Ivermectin.” Japan hasn’t stopped its vaccine program and hasn’t approved ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment.
Merck and Pfizer are each developing a new oral antiviral drug that might prevent or treat COVID-19. The pills are very different from the antiparasitic medication ivermectin, contrary to claims online that they are “suspiciously similar” or that the companies are “repackaging” ivermectin in a ploy to increase profits.
The Food and Drug Administration says male infertility is not a known side effect of the antiparasitic medication ivermectin. Dubious claims that the drug sterilizes 85% of male users were incorrectly attributed to a questionable 2011 study of the drug’s effect on a small sample of Nigerian men with onchocerciasis, a tropical disease also known as “river blindness.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the use of ivermectin as a treatment for arriving refugees to treat parasitic infections. But a social media post by Dr. Simone Gold, a proponent of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19, references the CDC guidance without accurately explaining the reason why refugees are given the drug. The CDC has warned against using ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19.