Health experts warn not to use Ivermectin for COVID treatment, prevention

Coronavirus not treatable by parasite medication, is a virus, not a parasite

Doctors across the country are warning about the use of a drug meant to farm animals to treat COVID.
Doctors across the country are warning about the use of a drug meant to farm animals to treat COVID.

LANSING, Mich. – Doctors across the country are warning about the use of a drug meant for farm animals to treat COVID. However, Ivermectin has still been promoted by one of Michigan’s top leaders.

More: Efforts grow to stamp out use of parasite drug for COVID-19

In a tweet, Senate Majority leader Mike Shirkey -- who has promoted other COVID misinformation in the past -- linked to a website that promoted unapproved and dangerous treatments for coronavirus.

“I am not qualified to determine the veracity of these studies,” Shirkey tweeted. “That requires medical professionals. However, these claims beg the question why the medical community in America (or MI) isn’t at least vigorously investigating?”

“It hasn’t been shown to be useful, effective in improving patient outcomes or reducing mortality and then what we get into trouble is, people thinking that they either want to prevent COVID, they want to prevent contracting it and they will try to get their hands off formulations that aren’t intended for humans,” said Dr. Varun Vohra, with Michigan Poison and Drug Information Center.

Human doses of Ivermectin do exist, but they are used to treat lice and some skin conditions. Livestock doses are meant for animal five to 10 times the size of an average human and can be potentially lethal if taken. The FDA and CDC both repeated that neither had approved its use and do not recommend Ivermectin to fight or prevent COVID.

“If you start to take higher and higher doses -- especially on approved doses -- it can lead to seizures and hallucinations, liver damage as well in severe cases,” Vohra said.

Michigan hasn’t seen the same spike in sales of the farm-grade medication as other states, but poison control is keep close watch after spending the pandemic fielding calls about other dangerous so-called miracle cures that made rounds online.

“It has been tough,” Vohra said. “Especially when these mistreatments have been sort of promoted on things like social media by people with huge audiences.”

According to the FDA and CDC, the only approved treatments for COVID are the antiviral drug Remdesivir and monoclonal antibodies, but the best protection against the virus is -- and always has been -- getting vaccinated.


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About the Authors:

Grant comes to Local 4 from Oklahoma City. He joins the news team as co-anchor of Local 4 News Today weekend mornings and is a general assignment reporter.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.