Ivermectin tablets. (Photo: Diverse Stock Photos)


A lot of folks here in the Ozarks believe the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin protects people from COVID.

It does not.

Since 1975, ivermectin has been used primarily to deworm livestock, but that was until the pandemic hit and humans cut in line and said, “Gimme some of that.”

This week, “The New England Journal of Medicine” published a large scientific study of ivermectin that showed that if you were infected with COVID and took ivermectin, you were just as likely to get sick enough to be hospitalized as if you took the placebo.

A “placebo” is a substance that has no therapeutic effect. It’s used as a control in testing new drugs.

The study’s summary conclusion — in its own words — is this:

“Treatment with ivermectin did not result in a lower incidence of medical admission to a hospital due to progression of COVID-19 or of prolonged emergency department observation among outpatients with an early diagnosis of COVID-19.”

According to a New York Times story posted on March 30, the ivermectin study compared more than 1,300 people in Brazil who were infected with the novel coronavirus.

To prevent bias, the treatments were double-blinded, meaning neither patients nor medical staff knew who received ivermectin and who received a placebo.

The results, according to the study’s authors, ruled out the drug as a treatment for COVID.

The New York Times quoted Dr. David Boulware, an infectious-disease expert at the University of Minnesota.

“There’s really no sign of any benefit,” he said.

“Now that people can dive into the details and the data, hopefully that will steer the majority of doctors away from ivermectin towards other therapies.”

The Food and Drug Administration has never approved ivermectin for treatment of COVID and national health experts have discouraged its use for fighting or treating COVID in humans.

The FDA states:

  • Taking large doses of ivermectin is dangerous.
  • If your health care provider writes you an ivermectin prescription, fill it through a legitimate source such as a pharmacy, and take it exactly as prescribed. 
  • Never use medications intended for animals on yourself or other people. Animal ivermectin products are very different from those approved for humans. Use of animal ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 in humans is dangerous. 

People apparently love their ivermectin

Still, people take ivermectin for the prevention and treatment of COVID here in the United States and in other countries.

I wrote an opinion column on ivermectin Sept. 1, 2021 in the Springfield News-Leader. My column started with:

“How is it that the same people who don’t believe the science and statistical data that show COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective are willing to take a livestock deworming tablet used mostly with cattle and horses?

“It’s like saying, ‘No thanks on that cupcake, I have to watch my weight; but super-size that bucket of lard for me.'”

Not everyone agreed with me. People apparently love their ivermectin and maybe didn’t appreciate my use of the phrase “bucket of lard.”

One supporter of ivermectin has been podcaster Joe Rogan, who promoted it repeatedly on his shows.

After my column ran, I heard from ivermectin users across the country who swear by its use for COVID and, apparently, have the word “ivermectin” as a Google alert, which led them to me.

Some of them were nicer than others.

If I’ve learned one thing during this pandemic, it’s that we live in an age where people are going to believe what they want even if their source of information is, say, a forsaken post-it note that whirls up from the highway and nestles under a wiper blade.

For example, I wrote a column on Feb. 1, 2021, about the fact that the City of Joplin Health Department had posted this message on its Facebook page:

“The COVID-19 vaccine will NOT have a tracking chip inside of it.”

I am not making this up.

After I saw the Facebook post, I talked to Ryan Talken, director of Joplin’s health department.

“It’s a rumor that we have heard within conversations for quite a while now,” he told me at the time.

For those of you like me, who never believed ivermectin was a wise choice, the large-scale study published this week is no surprise.

All I want in response to this news is for all of us to take a deep breath, with or without a mask at this point — and get vaccinated.

And for those lining up at the farm-supply store to get ivermectin for COVID treatment to buy it, instead, for their livestock. It actually works for that.

This is Pokin Around column No. 27.

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Springfield Daily Citizen. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at spokin@sgfcitizen.org. His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin