Ivermectin and Covid-19: debunking the debunkers

One of the biggest mysteries of 2020 for me is why there seem to be a minority of people such as myself who disagree with many of the prevailing beliefs about Covid-19. I find myself frequently at odds with the beliefs of my friends and family. To them it sounds like I have fallen victim to some fake alternative news source – it sometimes sounds like that to me when I hear myself speak. Because of my background in philosophy and the theory of logic and reasoning, I am extremely intrigued by what is happening to public information and public discussion on topics like Covid-19 – and I think a major factor is the behaviour of the mainstream media.

To try to understand this I want to look at one specific example to do with Ivermectin – which according to a number of highly respected medical experts is showing great promise as a treatment for Covid-19 (see [1] and [2] at end of article), yet most people (regardless of where you are in the world) simply aren’t hearing about Ivermectin, or if they do they are being told it is fake news and dangerous misinformation – and the focus of the mainstream media is on “debunking” this “misinformation”.

Analysis of a flawed “fact-check” article

Currently in the New Zealand Herald web site the most recent article on Covid and Ivermectin is titled “Fake news corrected: AP fact check looks at what didn’t happen this week” (Dec 12th) which begins “A look at false and misleading claims…” and contains a short section “No evidence ivermectin is a miracle drug against Covid-19” contributed by New York writer Beatrice Dupuy [3]. After looking closely at this article my conclusion is that it is biased, vague, and full of flawed reasoning – with the apparent intention of discrediting Ivermectin and silencing conversation.

The article begins as follows:

CLAIM: The antiparasitic drug ivermectin “has a miraculous effectiveness that obliterates” the transmission of Covid-19 and will prevent people from getting sick.

THE FACTS: …”

Although no source is cited for this claim, I think it is close enough to what advocates for Ivermectin are saying so I won’t take issue with this. However the overall structure here is clearly designed from the outset to convince us that the claim is false. People don’t say “The facts:” when they are about to provide evidence which supports the claim. The writer has set out the structure of the article as if we can all agree that the claim is false, and the only task now left for the reader is to learn why the claim is false. This reminds me of a TV programme I once watched about aliens on the moon. It showed a photo of something on the surface which looked vaguely like a gun turret and then the narrator said something like “The question is, why would aliens place a gun turret on the moon?”. Obviously the question that should really be asked is “Is it a gun turret?” – but the trick here is to skip over that question and assume we all agree it is a gun turret. This is so obviously a cheap psychological trick. The writer of this article is doing the same.

The writer then begins her laying out of the “the facts” by saying that at a recent Senate hearing a group of doctors “touted” alternative Covid-19 treatments – the use of the word “touted” here is obviously designed to discredit. See link [2] at the end of this article for an excerpt from the hearing concerned.

Next the writer makes the following claim:

“Medical experts have cautioned against using either of those drugs to treat Covid-19.”

I don’t doubt that at some point in time some medical expert expressed this view. But no source is provided and the claim is extremely vague. Who exactly said this? When did they say this? What exactly did they say? Would they still say the same today? There isn’t really any reason to grant this claim much credence at all – but again it is designed to persuade us. The next claim the writer makes is this:

“Studies have shown that hydroxychloroquine has no benefit against the coronavirus and can have serious side effects.”

First of all – this article is supposed to be about Ivermectin, so what has hydroxychloroquine got to do with it? The answer is nothing – since Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine are different drugs and no-one has suggested they be used together. In fact this little slip-up by the author betrays her bias – or demonstrates faulty reasoning – take your pick. Even if this claim was relevant to Ivermectin, no source is provided and the claim is very vague. What studies were these? What exactly did they show? Are there other studies that gave a different result? (actually yes there are and I talk about some of these here and here). Like the previous claim – this claim is purely designed to discredit. The writer then says this:

“There is no evidence ivermectin has been proven a safe or effective treatment against Covid-19.”

Again no source is referenced. In argument theory this type of sentence is what is called a negative existential claim and I have written here about the danger of making such claims. For this claim to be true the writer or someone else would have had to conduct an exhaustive search of every possible thing that would constitute evidence – and even if they found none they could still not be sure none existed. The problem is that all that is needed to prove such a claim false is one counter-example, and in fact there do appear to be many counter-examples which the writer would have found had she looked (see [1] and [2] for some examples).

The writer then says “Yet Dr Pierre Kory, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at Aurora St Luke’s Medical Centre in Milwaukee, described ivermectin as a “wonder drug” with immensely powerful antiviral and anti-inflammatory agents at the hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee”. One significant word here is “Yet” – the writer is telling us that what Dr. Pierre Kory said must be false since it contradicts the “facts” the writer has just given us. Then the writer says:

“Clips of Kory’s comments on ivermectin during the hearing were shared widely on social media, one clip receiving more than 1 million views on YouTube”

This is interesting, but how is it relevant? Does it make Dr. Kory’s claims true? Does it make them false? Does popularity on YouTube make a claim false? The writer then says this:

“Ivermectin is approved in the US in tablet form to treat parasitic worms as well as a topical solution to treat external parasites. The drug is also available for animals.”

Interesting, and true as far as I am aware. The writer could have also mentioned that the discoverers of Ivermectin won a Nobel prize, that it has been in use for 40 years, is on the WHO’s list of essential medicines, and is used safely by 3.7 billion people world-wide [1]. The writer then says this:

“The US Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health have said the drug is not approved for the prevention or treatment of Covid-19. According to the FDA, side effects for the drug include skin rash, nausea and vomiting.”

Firstly, let’s deal with the second sentence. What the FDA actually say is that these are some of the side effects “which may be associated with ivermectin” [4]. Secondly, most medicines have side-effects and the existence of side-effects do not disqualify a medicine from approval. Finally, the risk of death seems to me to be quite a bit worse than skin rash, nausea and vomiting, even if those side effects always occur (which according to the FDA they don’t).

However the first sentence about the FDA is the core of the writer’s effort to discredit Ivermectin, but in fact is simply a statement of the current position of the FDA. Furthermore, what the FDA actually say is that Ivermectin’s “benefits and safety for these purposes have not been established” [4]. The real story here – which the writer seems uninterested in – is that the experts who testified at the senate hearing believe that the benefits and safety of Ivermectin have been established and they want the authorities such as NIH and FDA to urgently review the evidence that exists. Instead, the writer follows her misleading comments about the FDA with the following:

“Dr Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins University, said most of the research around ivermectin at the moment is made up of anecdotes and studies that are not the gold standard in terms of how to use ivermectin. “We need to get much more data before we can say this is a definitive treatment,” he said. “We would like to see more data before I recommend it to my patients.””

The question here is this. Why should what Dr Amesh Adalja apparently says be given more credence than the experts who testified at the Senate Hearing? Furthermore, what Dr Adalja says doesn’t actually make the central claim false.

At this point, the writer decides it is time to provide details of studies:

“In June, Australian researchers published the findings of a study that found ivermectin inhibited the replication of Sars-CoV-2 in a laboratory setting, which is not the same as testing the drug on humans or animals.”

In terms of the actual evidence of efficacy and safety, there are numerous more recent and more compelling items of evidence which the writer could have given as examples. To be fair to the author – because of the influence of articles like hers – the evidence in favour of Ivermectin is more difficult to find than it should be, but it isn’t impossible to find if you are prepared to make the effort. Sky News Australia managed to do that when they reported on the findings of world-renowned Professor Thomas Borody back in August [6].

The remainder of the article is focused on apparent concerns that people would self-medicate and would deplete supplies of the medicine putting those who needed it for non-Covid conditions at risk. These are certainly topics worth consideration, but surely the overriding question here is whether Ivermectin is a treatment that could significantly reduce hospitalisation and save many lives.

What is wrong here?

What is wrong here? That is the sixty-four thousand dollar question – as they saying goes.

For one thing, the writer obviously has an agenda to discredit Ivermectin as a treatment for Covid-19. I think it is clear from reading this article that Dupuy’s mind was made up before she wrote the first word. The question is why. I think the immediate cause is that Dupuy is immersed in a narrative that treatments like Ivermectin are fake news and misinformation, but I think the ultimate causes are many and complex and here I suggest some possibilities.

A secondary question is why the NZ Herald chose to publish this article dismissing Ivermectin, rather than an article about the research that has been done on Ivermectin. Here again I think the answer is that the staff at the NZ Herald are all immersed in the same narrative as Dupuy. Furthermore, somehow we have gotten to the point where there is a high price to be paid by either individuals or organisations for stepping outside of the mainstream narrative – and few are brave enough to do that.

One question we might ask is why more members of the public don’t see through articles like the one I have analysed here. For one thing, the article pulls out all the stops when it comes to devious tricks of persuasion, and I think most people can be forgiven for succumbing to those tactics because most people don’t expect journalists in well respected publications to be trying to mislead them. I’ve no doubt that Dupuy writes well and is intelligent, but unfortunately when such a person chooses to suspend their objectivity and critical thinking skills they may end up using their talents in support of a false narrative. The problem is made much worse because this kind of article is the only kind of article being seen by many people – including the members of the mainstream media themselves. If more objective articles existed, articles like this would not even make it to print.

We are told many people are dying or are at risk of dying, and that hospitals are at extreme risk of being overwhelmed – if these claims are true then authorities should be taking potential treatments seriously. If new vaccines have been developed with such speed, why isn’t the potential re-purposing of existing drugs like Ivermectin being given equal urgency? We should all be very concerned that the mainstream media seem to be discrediting and silencing discussion about potential treatments – treatments that could save countless lives and reduce the economic damage and other harms being done by lockdown measures.

Sources:

[1] December 4th. FLCCC News Conference on Dec. 4 – Power Point Presentation (covid19criticalcare.com) and FLCCC Alliance – Call-for-Action News Release/Press Conference Follow-Up (covid19criticalcare.com)

[2] December 8th. Pierre Kory, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at St. Luke’s Aurora Medical Center, delivers passionate testimony during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on “Early Outpatient Treatment: An Essential Part of a COVID-19 Solution, Part II.” https://youtu.be/Tq8SXOBy-4w

[3] December 12th, NZ Herald. Fake news corrected: AP fact check looks at what didn’t happen this week – NZ Herald

[4] FAQ: COVID-19 and Ivermectin Intended for Animals | FDA. The heading on this FDA page is misleading because the page is not just about Ivermectin in animals – it also discusses approved use of Ivermectin in humans.

[5] Ivermectin | COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines (nih.gov)

[6] August 9th. Sky News Australia. Professor Thomas Borody on effectiveness of Ivermectin treatment – he says “curative within 6-8 days”, but met with “very negative reaction” from Australian federal government. https://youtu.be/93jI7Gl3yic

3 thoughts on “Ivermectin and Covid-19: debunking the debunkers

    1. Thanks for pointing this out Matthew. It’s been used in a confusing way but the person does acknowledge that it isn’t their content and includes a link – as far as I am concerned the more exposure there is to what is happening around Ivermectin the better.

      Like

  1. Anything which costs money, to my way of thinking is just another rip off and there is no proof that Ivermectin does anything against Covid and therein is the problem.
    Covid begins with Coronavirus which you breathe into the nasal passages of your head and it grown in the warm, wet areas in your nasal passages, before descending into your body as Covid, but you don’t know that until a further 10 days have passed and Covid flares up again and you can’t breathe, because the vaccine did not save you from Covid – because that was not its purpose.
    My free salt water cure kills the Coronavirus in your head dead, before it ever gets to be anything else:

    “Even so, a key issue is that the current vaccines block severe disease but do not prevent infection, said Dr. Gregory Poland, a vaccine scientist at the Mayo Clinic. That is because the virus is still capable of replicating in the nose, even among vaccinated people, who can then transmit the disease through tiny, aerosolized droplets”
    Reuters – what my free salt water cure stops.

    The Achilles Heel of Coronavirus, is while it is still in the developing stage as Coronavirus/Covid in the warm, wet areas inside the nasal passages of your head (nose) and before it gets to become Covid in your head and lungs, 10 to 14 days later. If Coronavirus is not treated with my free salt clean water cure to flush out your nasal passages, as soon as possible, or during self isolation, it becomes Covid, which is where the money is. You cannot catch Covid! Always breathe through your nose and keep your mouth shut, because you really don’t want the Coronavirus to seed itself in your lungs!! My free salt water cure has “absolutely nothing” to do with mRNA test vaccines. Treating Coronavirus with my free salt clean water cure, flushes out the nasal cavity and kills Coronavirus, before it gets to be Covid, irrespective of if you have had mRNA vaccines or not. Mix one heaped teaspoon of salt in a mug of warm or cold clean water, cup a hand and pour some of the solution in, then sniff or snort that mugful up into your nose, spitting out everything which comes down into your mouth, by so doing, you flush out your nasal cavity, where Coronavirus lives. If you get a burning sensation (which lasts for 2-3 minutes) then you have a Coronavirus infection.When the soreness goes away, blow out your head with toilet paper and flush away, washing your hands afterwards and continue doing my salt clean water nasal cavity flush cure, morning, noon and night, or more often, if you want, until, when you do my free salt water cure, you don’t experience any soreness at all in your nasal cavity. While you are at it, swallow a couple of mouthfulls and if you get a burning sensation in your chest, then you are killing the Covid/Bronchitis there too, so keep it up, each time you do a salt water sniffle, until the soreness in your head and lungs goes away – job done. Pour some of the solution on a flat surface and allow to dry and see what you have then. This is what coats the nasal passages in your head and kills Coronavirus/Covid off. You can see why it is so effective. This is what I have done for the past 26.5 years and I am NEVER ill, nor do you need to be either.

    Keep safe. Richard

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s