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Ivermectin: fraud or cure for COVID-19?


 

Ivermectin, a drug used to rid mammals of parasites, seems to be showing some utility in the treatment of SARS-CoV-2. The paper by Elgazzar et al. showed dramatic results showing a significant improvement in mortality and more rapid recovery. However, a medical student in London, Jack Lawrence, was assigned to analyze the paper by one of his lecturers and he, along with a number of others found serious problems.

The specific errors found are described in an excellent article in The Guardian. One of the most serious concerns is the apparent cloning of records. This was uncovered by Nick Brown who demonstrated at at least 79 records appear to be near copies of one another with a few fields changed, implying the modifications were done to cover up the copying.

Even worse, this paper was included in several meta-analyses on ivermectin, skewing those conclusions. I do think ivermectin warrants further investigation, but at the present time, it is not clear if there is a clinical benefit. Fraudulent studies just make matters worse.