Fake publications claim US health agency started recommending ivermectin against Covid

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Posts on Facebook and Twitter have been circulating around the world falsely claiming that The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) changed their page in September to recommend the ivermectin, antiparasitic drug for Covid-19. An NIH spokesperson told AFP on September 6 that the agency “advises against the use of ivermectin” for Covid-19. A review of the archives of the The NIH website shows that the agency has not recently changed its position on the drug – its latest update dated April 29, 2022 does not recommend ivermectin as a treatment for coronavirus.

“Interesting, ivermectin is now used to treat [Covid-19]. whereas during the pandemic it was banned,” reads a Facebook post posted on September 4.

The post features a screenshot of a page from the NIH website – titled “Antiviral Therapy” – which shares available data on several antiviral drugs in relation to Covid-19.

The section on ivermectin states: “Ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug that is being evaluated to treat Covid-19.”

Similar posts on Facebook and Twitter say the section was updated in September, criticizing the NIH for supposedly reversing its position on ivermectin.

Throughout the pandemic, AFP has repeatedly denied messages promoting ivermectin as an effective remedy for Covid-19, for example here, here and here.

A screenshot of the fake Facebook post taken on September 8, 2022.

The false claim has also been shared thousands of times in Portuguese, Spanish and French.

Responding to the messages, an NIH spokesperson told AFP on September 6, “The COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Committee advises against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19.”

No change

A separate section on the same NIH page actually states that the list under “Antiviral Therapy” includes drugs that are being evaluated in clinical trials.

“The inclusion of these drugs does not imply that the group recommends their use,” the section states.

The NIH’s most recent information on ivermectin – updated April 29, 2022 – states that the agency “recommends that ivermectin not be used for the treatment of Covid-19 except in clinical trials.”

The agency said its recommendation is based on recently published randomized controlled trials that showed ivermectin had “no clinical benefit” for treating Covid-19.

The the first archives available from the NIH’s “Antiviral Therapy” page on the Wayback Machine – supported June 2021 — shows the same message about ivermectin.

The advice was not amended to recommend ivermectin for Covid-19 in September.

Below is a comparison between the June 2021 archived version of the page (left) and the version published in September 2022 (right):

In December 2021, the US Food and Drug Administration warned against using ivermectin to treat Covid-19.

Its statement reads in part: “Even levels of ivermectin for approved human uses may interact with other medications, such as blood thinners.

“You may also overdose on ivermectin, which may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (problems with balance), seizures, coma and even death.”

The World Health Organization and the European Medicines Agency have also separately advised against the use of ivermectin to treat Covid-19, except in clinical trials.

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