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Why was the use of ivermectin to treat Covid-19 demonized?

By Murray Hunter - posted Thursday, 7 September 2023

Before vaccines were available for the treatment of Covid-19, doctors used their experience and intuition, and tried commonly available drugs for treatment. Indian physicians had found ivermectin to be effective, on an observational basis. The drug had been proven to be effective against viruses, such as dengue and Zikar viruses in the past.

Remember, at the time the world was in a panic and didn’t really know what the real characteristics of SARS CoV 2 were. There was much guesswork and experimentation in treatment.

However, very quickly into the pandemic there was a media onslaught against ivermectin across the world. Ivermectin was portrayed as a horse medicine by the BBC and other corporate media outlets. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also inferred the same, pointing out the potential dangers of using ivermectin.


Meanwhile, in Malaysia the Ministry of Health (MOH) had forbidden doctors to use the drug to treat Covid-19, at a time there was no prescribed drug to treat Covid at the time. The MOH even sent letters to medical supply wholesalers to stop importuning the drug into Malaysia. The right of doctors to treat their patients in the best way they saw fit was taken away by the state.



This leads to the question why ivermectin was withheld as a medicine of last resort, at a time when there was a medical emergency.

In the first nine months of 2020, there were no prescribed treatments for Covid-19. The newly developed vaccines were not available for most of 2020 in Malaysia.


Ivermectin was a medicine worthy of trying as it had been proven to be effective against single strain RNA viruses such as Dengue, Zika Virus, Yellow Fever, and others.  With over 2.5 billion doses administrated to human patients over the last 30 years, ivermectin had an excellent safety profile. The 2015 Nobel Prize was awarded to William C. Campbell and Satoshi Omura for their discoveries using ivermectin as a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites. The drug, now with its patent elapsed is used for a host of ‘off label’ applications.

The World Health Organization had listed ivermectin as one of the essential medicines for humans.

One strongly suspects that ivermectin stood in the way of the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Pfizer’s and Moderna’s mRNA vaccines. In order for these products to be given EUA, there must be a sound medical necessity, and no adequate, approved, and available alternatives to the candidate products for the diagnosing, preventing, or treating a disease or condition.

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About the Author

Murray Hunter is an associate professor at the University Malaysia Perlis. He blogs at Murray Hunter.

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