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.
Studies on whether ivermectin is beneficial in treating COVID-19 patients haven’t been conclusive, and health officials have warned people not to self-medicate. But multiple large trials are continuing to assess the antiparasitic drug. Yet, Sen. Rand Paul reportedly said researchers were “unwilling to objectively study” it because of “hatred” for Donald Trump. He later acknowledged studies are being done. Here we review the research.