FDA Warns People Not To Take Livestock Drugs To Treat COVID

Ivermectin Drug For COVID conspiracy theory
(NurPhoto/Getty Images)

The FDA had no choice but to get a little sassy on main after a spike in poison control calls related to the human ingestion of horse dewormers.

Yes, this is the world we live in. On Saturday, August 21, the Food and Drug Administration tweeted, “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it,” along with a link to an article titled, “Why You Should Not Use Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent COVID-19.” The tweet was prompted by a spike in poison control calls in Mississippi, as folks who believed the conspiracy theory that ivermectin — which is, again, a dewormer used for large livestock — is a viable treatment for COVID-19.

The Mississippi Department of Health released an official alert on August 20, sharing that, “At least At least 70% of the recent calls have been related to ingestion of livestock or animal formulations of ivermectin purchased at livestock supply centers.” Fortunately, only one of the callers was advised to seek additional medical treatment, while the rest only experienced mild symptoms. “Animal drugs are highly concentrated for large animals and can be highly toxic in humans,’ the alert said.

Where did this ivermectin conspiracy theory come from?

Most of the rightwing pundits who peddle and promote ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment are citing a study that has been withdrawn due to “ethical concerns.” The entire introduction was plagiarized, numbers throughout data sets did not match, and had data points that were “mathematically impossible.” It was a dupe. Still, conspiracy theorists are promoting this dewormer as some sort of miracle drug, and it’s truly harrowing to learn that some people were more ready to put ivermectin in their systems than, you know, the vaccine made specifically for COVID-19 that is available and made for humans. Ivermectin isn’t even an anti-viral drug, which makes people’s willingness to believe in its effectiveness even more confusing.

There are limited FDA-approved uses of ivermectin in humans, like for head lice or select internal parasites, but this is a different ivermectin (and much lower dose) than the ones used to deworm livestock. In severe cases, humans can experience neurologic disorders, seizures, and coma from ivermection ingestion. It can even prove fatal in the worst cases.

Again, there is no evidence that ivermectin treats or prevents COVID-19.

This isn’t the first conspiracy theory regarding COVID treatment that’s come up during the pandemic, and it unfortunately will not be the last. Listen to the FDA and World Health Organization. Don’t take horse dewormer for COVID. Get vaccinated. Wear a mask. And once more to really drive it home: Don’t take horse dewormer for COVID.