In recent weeks, many Americans have again sought to prevent Covid-19 infections by misusing ivermectin, a drug commonly used in animals. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US health regulator, had to step up to the plate.
“You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, all of you. Stop it ”. In a recently published tweet, the FDA is not doing four things. And for good reason, in the midst of the latest wave of Covid-19 fueled by the delta variant, health authorities have highlighted a dangerous increase in the misuse of ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug commonly used in animals. Not surprisingly, many have been ill.
What is ivermectin?
Ivermectin has long been used to prevent and treat parasitic infections. The drug interferes with specific ion channels found in nematode worms, causing paralysis and preventing them from feeding and reproducing. This medicine is used in dogs and cats to prevent heartworm disease or “heartworm disease”. It is also used as a dewormer for cattle, horses, pigs and sheep.
In humans, especially in the United States, ivermectin tablets are also prescribed to treat conditions caused by parasitic intestinal worms. On the other hand, these drugs incorporate much lower doses than those used for cattle. And for good reason, at higher concentrations, ivermectin can interfere with critical channels, causing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension, dizziness, seizures or even death.
That being said, a few months ago, researchers released data suggesting that ivermectin could potentially help fight Covid-19. In the laboratory and in petri dishes, ivermectin appeared to block the critical intracellular transport proteins that SARS-CoV-2 uses to invade human cells. Recently, the Institut Pasteur also published an encouraging rodent study, but these results have never been repeated in clinical trials.
At this stage, no health authority is therefore recommending the use of this drug to fight Covid, especially since, according to research, effectively limiting the activity of the virus inside the human body would require the administration of doses up to ‘to a hundred times higher than those approved for use in humans.
You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y'all. Stop it. https://t.co/TWb75xYEY4
— U.S. FDA (@US_FDA) August 21, 2021
You will understand: there is therefore very little chance that ivermectin will ever be approved to fight Covid. Despite this, disinformation factories operating on social media have not hesitated to tout the promises of this approach as soon as the publication of this first data. As a result, many people have been rushing on the drug for several months. Unable to obtain a prescription, some even resorted to purchasing over-the-counter livestock medicine.
By the very start of the year, the average rate of ivermectin prescriptions per week had already fallen from 3,600 to a peak of 39,000 prescriptions during the week ending Jan. 8. At the same time, poison control centers across the United States had received three times more calls related to ivermectin than usual, according to the CDC.
In a recent health alert, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that prescriptions for ivermectin had exploded again, reaching more than 88,000 prescriptions in the week ending August 13. By comparison, this is about 24 times more than usual. This time, calls to poison control centers have increased fivefold. These calls have also been linked to an increase in emergency room and hospital visits linked to ivermectin.