Studies have repeatedly shown that ivermectin does not work as a COVID-19 treatment. The most-cited study suggesting it might has been revealed as seriously flawed, if not a complete fabrication. There are formulations of ivermectin that are safe and widely used to treat parasites in humans, but that doesn’t make it a good idea to take the drug in place of things that can actually prevent COVID-19 deaths—vaccines—let alone to take veterinary formulations of the drug in massive quantities, as too many people have done. The American Medical Association, American Pharmacists Association, and American Society of Health-System Pharmacists have warned against taking ivermectin to combat COVID-19.
But as far as Dr. Andy Harris, a member of the United States House of Representatives, is concerned? Those national organizations that say people shouldn’t take an anti-parasitic veterinary drug to treat a human virus are being “ridiculous.” This isn’t a first for Harris. He previously touted the supposed benefits of hydroxychloroquine, which not only didn’t work to treat COVID-19, it had deadly side effects. And Harris wasn’t promoting the drug before the facts were in—he was doing so after the FDA revoked its emergency use authorization.
Harris is an anesthesiologist. He’s not a primary care doctor, an infectious disease doctor, a critical care doctor, a heart or lung doctor, an obstetrician. Anesthesiologists play a very important role in COVID-19 care, though: They’re the doctors who intubate people going on ventilators. But that critical role, if Harris has filled it in his continuing part-time anesthesiology work or has even talked with his fellow anesthesiologists who have done so, should show him the stakes when it comes to prescribing and publicly recommending drugs that do not work to treat this virus.
The hospital where Harris practices (as part of an independent physician group, not as a direct employee), said in a statement, “Ivermectin is not authorized or approved by FDA for prevention or treatment of COVID-19 and has not been shown to be safe or effective for these indications.”
If Harris is not acting as a responsible doctor, though, he is acting very much as a Republican politician. At one point he promoted vaccines, only to turn around and oppose vaccination for children in addition to opposing mandates requiring both vaccines and masks. In that he’s being a typical Republican, joining Rep. Jim Jordan and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and others in howling about vaccine mandates despite all the evidence that they work.
“The only thing I’m worried about is because of the media push and all of the hype about covid is that the majority of Americans actually agree with these mandates,” Harris said on the radio show where he promoted ivermectin. “What are we, a bunch of lemmings?” He said, encouraging people to engage in stereotypical lemming behavior by taking drugs shown not to work by multiple studies and advised against by the major medical associations rather than taking a thoroughly documented, effective vaccine.
The thing is, Republicans know they need some kind of answers to COVID-19 beyond “eh, it’s just like the flu.” No matter how much they trot out that lie, it doesn’t convince enough people. But Republicans are opposed to the things that actually work to fight the pandemic, like vaccination and masking, so they keep coming up with these other answers, which may not work and may even be dangerous, but make it look like they’re offering solutions. They don’t give a damn about the reality of the pandemic, so they’re treating it as a political problem that can be addressed with lies.