Ivermectin influencer dead, but misinformation persists

Ivermectin influencer dead, but misinformation persists

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Ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug, gained popularity as a means to prevent and treat COVID-19.

“HAPPY FRIDAY TO ALL YOU POISONOUS HORSE PASTE EATING SURVIVORS!” posted Danny Lemoi on March 3, 2023 on his hugely popular pro-ivermectin telegram group, Dirt Road Discussions. Hours later, the resident of Rhode Island in the United States was found dead; apparently, as a result of all the ivermectin, an anti-parasite medication, he had been ingesting over the years.

The World Health Organization (WHO) lists ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug, among the essential medicines since it was given human use approval in 1987. Recently, it gained popularity as a means to prevent and treat COVID-19. 

Intriguingly, Danny was a strong advocate of consuming the drug used by veterinarians for animals such as horses and cows, instead of opting for the form of ivermectin approved for human use to treat certain infections. He had claimed in a podcast that taking the animal-formulated form of ivermectin daily had “regenerated” his heart muscle.

While health experts have been vocal about the lack of scientific evidence to support his dangerous claims, Danny’s huge following on social media hasn’t been deterred. Ivermectin is being used by members of the group not only to prevent and treat COVID, but also as a miracle cure for a wide-range of ailments, including cancer, depression, autism, and ovarian cysts. 

Here’s their (half-baked) rationale: Every illness is brought on by a parasite that can be eliminated from the body by ivermectin - just as the drug is used to treat a variety of parasitic worms in animals.

The reasoning is flawed though, notes Dr Shoukat Dar, an emergency consultant at Hamad General Hospital in Doha, Qatar. “Ivermectin is not authorised or recognised by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 in humans or animals. The drug is approved to treat patients with intestinal strongyloidiasis and onchocerciasis, two parasitic worm-related disorders. Some topical forms of ivermectin are approved to treat external parasites like head lice and for skin conditions such as rosacea,” he explains.

“Ivermectin overdoses can result in seizures, coma, death, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic responses (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (issues with balance), allergic reactions (itching and hives), nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and hypotension,” warns Dr Shoukat.

It's disconcerting to note that the spread of misinformation continues, despite its prime perpetrator’s death, and even as viewers share their own unsettling concerns about the medication’s damaging effects.