Report: Largest Study Yet Shows Ivermectin Failed to Reduce Covid Hospitalizations

I’m shocked, I tell you. Shocked.

Soumyabrata Roy/NurPhoto/Getty Images

The coronavirus is a rapidly developing news story, so some of the content in this article might be out of date. Check out our most recent coverage of the coronavirus crisis, and subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Antiparasitic drug Ivermectin became a partisan battleground during the Covid-19 pandemic, as anti-vaccine influencers and Republican politicians hawked it as a miracle cure, to the widespread skepticism of infectious disease experts. 

A peer-reviewed study recently presented by Dr. Edward Mills, a professor of health sciences at McMaster University in Canada, offered significant new evidence that ivermectin was coronavirus snake oil all along. 

In the largest trial yet analyzing the effectiveness of ivermectin on treating the coronavirus, Mills and his fellow researchers found that Covid-19 patients at risk of severe illness who received ivermectin did no better than those prescribed a placebo, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

“This is the first large, prospective study that should really help put to rest ivermectin and not give any credibility to the use of it for Covid-19,” Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told the Journal

Of the 1,358 patients, researchers prescribed half a three-day course of ivermectin pills, and the other half with a placebo. They then tracked how many patients were hospitalized over the course of four weeks, how quickly the patients rid the virus from their bodies, and death rates, among other variables. The researchers parsed the data in a variety of different ways and found no instances where ivermectin impacted patient outcomes.

Earlier in the pandemic, some researchers hypothesized that ivermectin could help, after a few studies appeared to show a benefit. However, research consistently failed to validate these earlier findings, and many of the original studies that started the ivermectin craze were discovered to have employed flawed methods. Nevertheless, ivermectin remained a favored treatment among the hardline, anti-vaccine flank of the Republican Party, many of whom continued to take the drug even as medical experts warned that there was no hard evidence it worked.

My colleague Kiera Butler has followed the strange journey of ivermectin from its beginnings as the follow-up act to the discredited Trump-touted malaria drug hydroxychloroquine. In January she wrote that doctors had known for more than a year that the antiparasitic drug wasn’t effective against Covid, and that the FDA had explicitly warned against prescribing it to Covid patients.

But, nevertheless, many physicians continued to prescribe the drug anyway, exacting real costs to the public in the form of sky-high insurance and Medicare expenditures: “What’s more,” Kiera wrote, “anti-vaccine activists often tout ivermectin as an alternative to vaccines—yet many Covid patients who have opted for ivermectin and other untested treatments instead of vaccines have required lengthy and expensive hospital stays.”

WE'LL BE BLUNT:

We need to start raising significantly more in donations from our online community of readers, especially from those who read Mother Jones regularly but have never decided to pitch in because you figured others always will. We also need long-time and new donors, everyone, to keep showing up for us.

In "It's Not a Crisis. This Is the New Normal," we explain, as matter-of-factly as we can, what exactly our finances look like, how brutal it is to sustain quality journalism right now, what makes Mother Jones different than most of the news out there, and why support from readers is the only thing that keeps us going. Despite the challenges, we're optimistic we can increase the share of online readers who decide to donate—starting with hitting an ambitious $300,000 goal in just three weeks to make sure we can finish our fiscal year break-even in the coming months.

Please learn more about how Mother Jones works and our 47-year history of doing nonprofit journalism that you don't find elsewhere—and help us do it with a donation if you can. We've already cut expenses and hitting our online goal is critical right now.

payment methods

WE'LL BE BLUNT

We need to start raising significantly more in donations from our online community of readers, especially from those who read Mother Jones regularly but have never decided to pitch in because you figured others always will. We also need long-time and new donors, everyone, to keep showing up for us.

In "It's Not a Crisis. This Is the New Normal," we explain, as matter-of-factly as we can, what exactly our finances look like, how brutal it is to sustain quality journalism right now, what makes Mother Jones different than most of the news out there, and why support from readers is the only thing that keeps us going. Despite the challenges, we're optimistic we can increase the share of online readers who decide to donate—starting with hitting an ambitious $300,000 goal in just three weeks to make sure we can finish our fiscal year break-even in the coming months.

Please learn more about how Mother Jones works and our 47-year history of doing nonprofit journalism that you don't elsewhere—and help us do it with a donation if you can. We've already cut expenses and hitting our online goal is critical right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate