Is Ivermectin Effective to Treat Covid? Stimulated by

Robert F. Kennedy Jr’s Book The Real Anthony Fauci”

by Elliot Benjamin, Ph.D., Ph.D. January, 2022

In my previous article that was stimulated by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s book The Real Anthony Fauci [1], I conveyed a number of concerns I had about Fauci, as well as what I perceived were some serious flaws that Kennedy made. However, it was quite evident from my article that my concerns about Fauci greatly exceeded my perception of Kennedy’s flaws, even though I stressed that all of Kennedy’s claims about Fauci needed to be thoroughly investigated [1]. It is in this light that I want to make at least an overture to what I have requested for follow-up investigations regarding Kennedy’s claims against Fauci. It would undoubtedly be a tremendously overwhelming task to do this for all of Kennedy’s claims, but a journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step, so I will take a first step and discuss the loaded issue of the effectiveness of ivermectin, disparagingly referred to as “horse medicine,” against Covid.

To begin with, I would like to take this opportunity to give credit where credit is due. And what I am referring to is Fauci’s courage in contradicting Trump on a number of Covid issues during Trump’s presidency, in particular on the issues of wearing masks, social distancing, and lockdowns [2]. In this context, given that I completely agreed with Fauci’s advocacy during Trump’s presidency for wearing masks, social distancing, and lockdowns, I must commend what I perceive as Fauci’s courageous actions [3], as my perception of his actions in this regard is completely different from Kennedy’s perception [1]. But getting back to the controversial area of my concerns about Fauci, let’s take a look at the loaded ivermectin issue.

Ivermectin and Covid: What Is the Truth?

I thank Frank Visser for getting me going with exploring the truth behind ivermectin and Covid. Frank conveyed to me what Merck, the huge pharmaceutical company that was the initial vendor of Ivermectin, said about the drug. According to Merck scientists:

“No scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19 from preclinical studies; No meaningful evidence for clinical efficacy in patients with COVID-19 disease, and; A concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies.” [4]

Frank also referred me to a Wikipedia description that conveys there is a consensus about the failures of ivermectin to make a good medicine for Covid, while Frank acknowledged that Wikipedia would be a suspect source for Kennedy:

“Based on the current very low- to low-certainty evidence, we are uncertain about the efficacy and safety of ivermectin used to treat or prevent COVID-19. The complete studies are small and few are considered high quality. Several studies are underway that may produce clearer answers in review updates. Overall, the reliable evidence available does not support the use of Ivermectin for treatment or prevention of COVID-19 outside of well-designed randomized trials.” [5]

Needless to say, seeing this information motivated me to further explore Kennedy’s descriptions of the dramatic benefits of Ivermectin in treating Covid. I made a preliminary search and here is some disturbing information that I found from an August 2021 article in the journal Nature:

“FLAWED PREPRINT HIGHLIGHTS CHALLENGES OF COVID DRUG STUDIES: Paper’s withdrawal from online platform deals blow to an anti-parasite drug’s promise to treat COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic, the anti-parasite drug ivermectin has attracted much attention, particularly in Latin America, as a potential way to treat COVID-19. But scientists say that recent, shocking revelations of widespread flaws in the data of a preprint study reporting that the medication greatly reduces COVID-19 deaths have dampened ivermectin’s promise — and highlights the challenges of investigating drug efficacy during a pandemic.. . . . Some phrases were identical to those in other published work. . . . dozens of patient records that seemed to be duplicates, inconsistencies between the raw data and the information in the paper, patients whose records indicate they died before the study’s start date, and numbers that seemed to be too consistent to have occurred by chance. . . . The paper’s withdrawal is not the first scandal to dog studies of ivermectin and COVID-19. . . . Andrew Hill, who studies repurposed drugs at the University of Liverpool, UK. . . . thinks many of the other ivermectin trial papers that he has scanned are likely to be flawed or statistically biased.“ ([6]: Reardon, 2021, pp. 1–2)

Now talk about a red flag! This immediately resulted in my checking to see some of the references that Kennedy referred to in his promotion of ivermectin as an effective treatment for Covid. Sure enough, Kennedy furnished an extended take-down of the above researcher Andrew Hill, who thinks that many ivermectin studies are likely to be flawed or statistically biased, and Kennedy relied heavily in his ivermectin promotion on the researcher Pierre Kory [1]. It is concerning that Kory’s meta-analysis research article that Kennedy cites, which found significant beneficial results for ivermectin as a treatment for Covid, made use of the above flawed withdrawn preprint study [6], [7]. As it turns out, Pierre Kory himself is at the center of the controversy of having done research on ivermectin that may very well have been flawed [8]:

“[Kory’s] paper was retracted because a hospital where the research took place told the journal that patients there weren’t systematically offered Kory’s treatment, contrary to his claims, and that Kory misrepresented outcomes for the patients who did receive his treatment.” ([8]: Piper, 2021, p. 9)

However, in all fairness, it is quite possible that there has been legitimate research that has found beneficial effects of ivermectin as a treatment for Covid. It is certainly unsettling not to know if some of the research cited in a research meta-analysis contains faulty research studies, but here is the conclusion to an August, 2021 meta-analysis of research studies on the efficacy of ivermectin as a treatment for Covid, in the American Journal of Therapeutics, which is part of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association:

“Moderate-certainty evidence finds that large reductions in COVID-19 deaths are possible using ivermectin. Using ivermectin early in the clinical course may reduce numbers progressing to severe disease. The apparent safety and low cost suggest that ivermectin is likely to have a significant impact on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic globally.” [9: Bryant et al., 2021, p. 2)

Shifting gears a bit, in regard to the above statement of concern about using Ivermectin to treat Covid from Ivermectin’s initial vendor Merck, Kennedy went directly on the attack against Merck:

“Merck was ivermectin’s original manufacturer and had formerly boasted of ivermectin as its ‘wonder drug.’ During the 40 years that it marketed the drug worldwide, Merck had never spoken of these worrisome safety signals. . . . What prompted Merck’s sudden safety concerns? Merck’s exclusive ivermectin patent rights expired in 1996. . . and dozens of generic drug companies now produce IVM [ivermectin], for about 40 [cents]/dose, badly diminishing ivermectin’s profit profile for Merck. . . . Ivermectin is also a low-profit competitor for another new Merck product for COVID-19 — a high-cost antiviral drug, mulnupiravir, for which Merck had the highest financial ambitions. Ironically, mulnupiravir, a copycat formula, utilized an identical mechanism of action as ivermectin. . . .
That drug will retail at around $700 per course. . . but only if Merck can kill its cheap rival. . . . Its $712 per dose price to the taxpayer is forty times more than Merck’s $17.64 cost of production. Merck, which expects to make $7 billion per year on the new blockbuster, saw its stock price spike on news of the government contract and after President Biden’s televised plug.” ([1]: Kennedy, 2021, pp. 57, 59)

So what do we make of this? Is Kennedy’s insinuation that Merck was acting unethically and falsely in disparaging Ivermectin plausible? Well I must say that I would not put it past Merck to do such a thing, as Merck has paid out nearly 2 billion dollars of penalties from 22 court settlements between the years of 1991 and 2015, with its largest settlement for “unlawful promotion,” which has been defined as “off-label promotion of drug products or other deceptive marketing practices (e.g., downplaying health risks of a product).” [10]

So Kennedy has a point here in regard to not trusting Merck, but the fact remains that some dominant research that Kennedy has relied on to promote the benefits of ivermectin in treating Covid is apparently flawed research. Thus it may very well be the case that, at least in this instance, Merck deserves the benefit of the doubt in regard to their safety concerns about ivermectin. Putting this together with the above descriptions of the questionable accuracy and legitimacy of some of the studies that found beneficial results for ivermectin treating Covid, I must conclude that Kennedy’s promotion of ivermectin needs to be seriously investigated further and should not be taken at face value at the present time.

Conclusion

This brief preliminary exploration of Kennedy’s promotion of ivermectin as a treatment for Covid is just meant to be an indication of the kind of extended research that I have advocated for in evaluating Kennedy’s criticisms of Fauci in his book [1]. Fauci strongly promoted the United States eliminating all uses of ivermectin [1], but perhaps Fauci was not incorrect in his advocacy to do this. Then again, it is quite possible that in spite of the above concerns that some of the research on ivermectin was flawed, there may still be substantial benefits in using ivermectin to treat Covid. Either way, there are numerous claims that Kennedy made against Fauci which I would still like to see a serious investigation of. As I have previously discussed, much of these claims appear to be supported with factual data, but I am certainly open to seeing an alternative perspective to Kennedy’s particular claims against Fauci. I will reiterate that I think Kennedy’s claims should be taken seriously and not just dismissed based upon his previous anti-vaccination promotions. It may very well be the case that some of Kennedy’s claims are not substantiated, such as may be the case in regard to ivermectin. But it may also be the case that some of Kennedy’s claims are accurate, and I believe it is important to determine which is which and take appropriate actions if it is found that some of his serious claims against Fauci are indeed accurate. Thus what I am advocating for is an extended and substantial investigation of Kennedy’s claims against Fauci, which would give Fauci the opportunity to defend himself and demonstrate that Kennedy’s most serious claims about him are either unfounded or misleading. But in the meantime, I must say that I am still concerned that some of Kennedy’s serious concerns about Fauci may indeed be true, and I await further investigation and research to determine if this is the case.

Notes and References

1) 1) See Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (2021), The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health. Children’s Health Defense; see Elliot Benjamin (2021), Anthony Fauci: Hero or Villain? Stimulated by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Book “The Real Anthony Fauci.” www.integralworld.net/benjamin129.html

2) See Simon Romero (2020), Fauci and Trump Are at Odds Again Over Masks. https://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/09/30/world/covid-19-coronavirus; Thomas Colson (2020), Fauci Said He Was “Absolutely Not” Surprised Trump Caught the Coronavirus After Shunning Social Distancing Masks. https://www.businessinsider.com/dr-fauci-absolutely-not-surprised-that-trump-contracted-coronavirus-2020-10; Edward Helmore (2020), Donald Trump Claims Anthony Fauci “Wrong” About Cause of Covid-19 Surge. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/01/trump-covid-19-fauci-cases-testing

3) I thank my wife Dorothy Strom for reminding me about Fauci’s courage in contradicting Trump during his presidency in regard to the issues of wearing masks, social distancing, and lockdowns.

4) See the website https://www.merck.com/news/merck-statement-on-ivermectin-use-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

5) See the website https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD015017.pub2/full

6) See Sara Reardon (2021), Flawed Preprint Highlights Challenges of COVID Drug Studies. https://media.nature.com/original/magazine-assets/d41586-021-02081-w/d41586-021-02081-w.pdf

7) See [1]: reference 25, p. 106, Pierre Kory, Gianfranco Umberto Meduri, Joseph Varon, Jose DO Iglesias, & Paul E. Marik (2021). Review of the Emerging Evidence Demonstrating the Efficacy of Ivermectin in the Prophylaxis and Treatment of COVID-19. American Journal of Therapeutics, 28(3), https://journals.lww.com/americantherapeutics/fulltext/2021/06000 review_of_the_emerging_evidence_demonstrating_the.4.aspx The withdrawn flawed preprint study is reference 45 in the Kory article: Elgazzar, A, Hany, B, Youssef, SA, Hafez, M, Moussa, H, & Eltaweel, A. Efficacy and Safety of Ivermectin for Treatment and Prophylaxis of COVID-19 Pandemic. Res Square. 2020. Doi: 10.21203/rs.3.rs-100956/v3.

8) See Kelsey Piper (2021), How Bad Research Clouded Our Understanding of Covid-19. https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/22776428/ivermectin-science-publication-research-fraud.

9) Andrew Bryant, Theresa Lawrie, Therese Dowswell, Edmund Fordham, Scott Mitchell, Sarah Hill, & Tony Tham (2021), Ivermectin for Prevention and Treatment of COVID-19 Infection: A Systematic Review, Meta-analysis, and Trial Sequential Analysis to Inform Clinical Guidelines. https://journals.lww.com/americantherapeutics/fulltext/2021/08000/ivermectin_for_prevention_and_treatment_of.7.aspx

10) See Sammy Almashat, Sidney Wolfe, & Michael Carome (2016), Twenty-Five Years of Pharmaceutical Industry Criminal and Civil Penalties: 1991 Through 2015. Public Citizen; as cited in Tables 21 and 22 in Mateja Cernic (2018), Ideological Constructs of Vaccination, pp. 402–403. Vega Press.

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