OWN VOICE. ~ InPerspective by Gregg Dieguez with help from Bruce Laird and Mary Chitty —
You may have read differing opinions about the value of Ivermectin in treating COVID, and the massive success it has been in India. It’s a lie. I have proof. But the story is much bigger than this single disinformation dilemma, it’s a detective story in which your intrepid correspondent begins with a confession, followed by his recent unearthing the truth about a popular COVID treatment, and then delves into the causes of deceit and disinformation.
Footnotes: to use, click the bracketed number and then click your browser Back button to return to the text where you were reading.
Images: Click to enlarge for improved readability in a new window.
I confess. I have a bottle of Ivermectin in my bedside table. Back in 2020 – before vaccines, before testing, before monoclonal antibodies were widely available (as now), I picked up on early evidence that an anti-parasitic (worm) drug called Ivermectin might alleviate symptoms and prevent the worst outcomes of COVID-19. I’m on the downhill side of life, with an immuno-compromised spouse. I can’t take chances. So I contacted my family MD, who has a bias in favor of pharma solutions, and he gave me a prescription – kind of “in case of COVID emergency, take this”. And how smart was I, to read the early evidence that Ivemectin in a test tube or a petri dish inhibited the growth of this coronavirus? Well, I knew the proof wasn’t solid, and I knew there were side effects – dangerous ones if taking Ivermectin in large doses – and I further knew enough and had the means to avoid public health risks, so I didn’t need to take it because I avoided people and COVID. But then more evidence leaked out. JAMA, one of the 3 best medical journals in the world published a paper saying there was no benefit. However other doctors from Egypt did a paper saying there WAS benefit. And still other group of supposed doctors found flaws with the JAMA study. Other Ivermectin studies showed no benefit, and some risks. A doctor named Peter McCullough published a paper touting a variety of pre-hospital interventions [and before vaccines and in a country lacking decent public health behaviors with hundreds of thousands dying, there was a clear need for more and more rapid help], saying we couldn’t wait for Clinical Trials. A series of meta-analyses on Ivermectin, the cornerstone of Evidenced-based Medicine, included the favorable Egyptian pre-print paper in their reviews and thus concluded the evidence was mixed. But as time marched on and more studies piled up, more evidence of harm from using Ivermectin [poisoning], and no more evidence of benefit [e.g. in Brazil], accrued. Then, a researcher assigned to look at the Egyptian study found they had falsified their data, really criminally [click for details]. That Egyptian pre-print was retracted. And the laboratory efficacy of Ivermectin vs. the Virus in a petri dish could not be translated into a human body’s plasma and immune system. And there were several other [retractions of papers] with favorable Ivermectin claims. Finally, the CDC not only issued warnings against using Ivermectin, it put out a humorous tweet.
Still, people I know on the Left and the Right kept feeding me emails and videos about Ivermectin. “It’s doing great in India! Look at this Province, it’s conquered the virus.” But about once a month I’d look for a paper from India, with evidence one way or another, and I couldn’t find one. I asked my Indian tech friends, but they’d heard nothing. Finally, one of my sources forwarded me an article from Forbes, with some of the same assertions. Now Forbes has a distinct business-class bias. They’ve been wrong about the Climate Crisis and many other substantive issues over the years, but they are a real journalistic venue. They have a Standards and Practices department (unlike FOX “News”); they check multiple sources. And while Forbes carefully qualified their observations [details], I decided to finally get to the bottom of Ivermectin, especially in India.
Finding The Truth
Well, my first searches yielded dozens of websites with the same stories: a big success in India; there’s a media blackout about how good it is; “they” don’t want us to know the truth so Pharma can keep making profits (off vaccines which are free to us? compared to Ivermectin?). Lots of sites, but sites I had never seen producing credible news stories[partial list here]. And then, way down in page 3 of the search results was one link with a different story: which said the Indian official ministry had just DISCONTINUED use of Ivermectin for COVID as it had no benefit, and some risk. SO I did a different search, looking for announcements from that Indian Ministry – The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) . Surprise! I saw bunches of stories from British and Indian newspapers reporting they just dropped it as an approved treatment for COVID. So actually, there isn’t a media blackout in India re Ivermectin. It’s just news some people don’t want to admit, so they’re claiming it doesn’t exist.
But taking it a step further, I wrote the ICMR an email asking whether Ivermectin was being widely and successfully used there, or if they had in fact withdrawn it. I got back an official reply that Yes, Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) have been pulled from use, and providing links describing the current treatment protocol and why those drugs were withdrawn. And that’s the story widely reported in media and papers throughout India – Ivermectin is discredited there for COVID-19 treatment.
So there you have it. Intentional lies. Lots of websites with thousands of words lying about the truth – no proof Ivermectin works. It’s been discontinued, just as the CDC has done here, and there is NO MEDIA BLACKOUT on that truth.
Who’s Behind The Lies?…
But I now understand how people get so confused. There are people intentionally lying to them. On top of that, the algorithms behind Facebook, Google, YouTube, etc. are all prioritized for addiction. They keep showing you stuff which they think will hold your attention. In fact, they groove a rut for you that’s hard to escape unless you repeatedly re-do your searches and preferences. The reason I found the one link about the ICMR in India is because I used DuckDuckGo as my search engine, and NOT Google, where the latter biases results based on your prior interests, as well as the overall popularity of the results fitting your query. So I had been stuck in a “result rut” giving me good news about Ivermectin in India. THEN I switched search engines and search terms to find out about the professionals in Indian medicine and their COVID-19 advice.
More than ever before in our history, we need to only accept information from credible sources, and/or that we can confirm for ourselves. And the most popular tools for research are part of the bias problem we face.
Now who are the people behind those lying pro-Ivermectin sites? Who is funding them to lie, and why are they doing it? That will take more work, but here’s a hint:
A recent desertnews site story claimed MSN had covered the India Ivermectin success, but didn’t provide a link. They linked to another site called https://trialsitenews.com/about-us/ which also made the same claim – but also didn’t provide a link to MSN. …. and the lead advisor of trialsitenews.com, Peter McCullough, well he’s another bad story. [Analysis below] Perhaps this is the MSN story they didn’t link to: https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/hindi-news/ivermectin-explained-why-the-anti-parasite-drug-has-emerged-in-covid-debate/vi-AAOxRhF That MSN video just cites a controversy; it doesn’t claim Ivermectin success; it mentions the doubts and dangers about Ivermectin. So, yeah, MSN covered it, but it wasn’t the news they wanted people to see, so they didn’t provide the link…. But wait, there’s more…
One of the leading proponents of HCQ and Ivermectin is Dr. Peter McCullough. His was the key research cited by OAN re HCQ – and OAN is going to need discrediting later – and the OAN story was largely based on this article: Pathophysiological Basis and Rationale for Early Outpatient Treatment of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Infection. That article cited two serious studies to support its claims re: anti-malarials for COVID-19. The first, a JAMA article McCollough cited, DID NOT support his claims – it said no benefit from HCQ. The second study he cited DID support: Int Jnl Infect Disease: Treatment with hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, and combination in patients hospitalized with COVID-19. But then specified that it was not a Clinical Trial; it said “Prospective trials are needed to examine this impact.” >> It was an observational study with statistical regression implying benefit. So that’s hardly “proof”. That same McCollough is a lead adviser of the site trialsitenews.com touting Ivermectin. He’s being sued by Baylor College of Medicine, which is not a great recommendation for your credibility. So now I begin to understand this disinformation – it’s coordinated. It features the same people.
… Well, WE are
Let’s face it, I’ve been naive regarding social media, and that the Attention Addiction Economy is at the heart of this Ivermectin lie, and likely many other lies. I have no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest accounts. I only do NextDoor and LinkedIn about twice a week (to post and view comments). But “I know a guy” who built a sailing website, beginning with useful advice on racing tactics, adding in tips on equipment purchase and usage, and finally creating an automated map of sailing conditions all over SF Bay. That site became popular among a circle of sailors. Allen noticed his popularity, and so did Google, who wrote him – and he now hosts advertisements they place. He also now makes a buck from that site. If an Insightful Sailor can make some money on an obscure sailing website, imagine what the Mercers and Steve Bannon can do with Breitbart, or in our case here today, a bunch of quack doctors with a panicked Pandemic population.
So the Russians may have started or fostered the anti-vaxx movement in the U.S. for warfare purposes, but the Disinformation Economy has a sustaining momentum of its own. It’s propped up by advertising revenue, and it runs on notoriety created by search engines and social media streams built to feed your Confirmation Bias. And if you’re good at manipulating social media, as McCollough and others seem to be, you get interviews, book deals, speaker honoraria, and a suite of profitable websites feeding both unethical writers and your profits.
So, I’m satisfied Ivermectin success in India is a complete hoax, and that professional scientific and medical researchers are on solid ground opposing its use. I also know there’s a way out of the Disinformation Trap, and we described it here: How To Tell The Truth. There is also a useful compendium of Fact-Checking websites here. It is work, but if you’re someone energetic enough to watch all the lying videos, and have enough initiative to do the searches necessary to find the [disinformation sites] (and think you’re brilliant), then just think of how smart (and helpful) you’ll be helping unmask all the liars.
In the meantime, the U.S. is filled with people who won’t take a free vaccine proven worldwide via billions of doses given to have high efficacy and minimal adverse events; instead those people are trying very hard to take an anti-parasite drug unapproved for COVID-19, which is killing and poisoning people at an alarming rate and is opposed by leading medical institutions.
Now, does anyone want to buy an unused bottle of Ivermectin?
Two dead in New Mexico: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2021/09/23/two-people-died-ivermectin-poisoning-new-mexico/5830791001/
CDC alerts clinicians to surge in ivermectin poisoning during pandemic
Serious Ivermectin Toxicity and Human ABCB1 Nonsense Mutations
Serious Neurological Adverse Events after Ivermectin—Do They Occur beyond the Indication of Onchocerciasis? (in Africa)
Why You Should Not Use Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent COVID-19 (FDA)
Ivermectin fails in Brazil: Brazil’s tragic ivermectin frenzy is a warning to the US, experts say
Central Valley Poison Control medical director: Ivermectin calls to poison control centers continue to spike
Death thru belief: Man who sued for use of Ivermectin to treat COVID dies
Oregon poisoning: Five Oregonians hospitalized due to misuse of ivermectin for COVID-19
Some in Mississippi will take Ivermectin before Vaccine: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/08/21/mississippi-ivermectin-covid-surge-livestock/
More details about the study’s errors are in this paper: https://steamtraen.blogspot.com/2021/07/Some-problems-with-the-data-from-a-Covid-study.html
“The main error is that at least 79 of the patient records are obvious clones of other records,” Brown told the Guardian. “It’s certainly the hardest to explain away as innocent error, especially since the clones aren’t even pure copies. There are signs that they have tried to change one or two fields to make them look more natural.”
“On the basis of the rationale above, any significant antiviral activity could not have been achieved with the dose used in the [laboratory] study and the resultant plasma concentration of the administered ivermectin. Thus, although ivermectin, in vitro, is a potent inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2 replication, in vivo[in people], the plasma concentration required to achieve the antiviral effect far exceeds the therapeutically applicable dose.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8225296/
Bottom line, there were several papers claiming Ivermection worked for COVID-19 which were debunked. However, because of the Egyptian falsified pre-print several countries adopted Ivermectin as a treatment, with damage to people’s health.
- “Efficacy and Safety of Ivermectin for Treatment and prophylaxis of COVID-19 Pandemic,” posted on ResearchSquare on November 13, 2020, withdrawn (along with its two revisions) on July 14, 2021. More information here.
- “Ivermectin in COVID-19 Related Critical Illness,” preprint posted in April 2020 on SSRN: Social Science Resource Network, retracted sometime in May.
- Reporting from The Scientist here [re Latin America]. “Review of the Emerging Evidence Demonstrating the Efficacy of Ivermectin in the Prophylaxis & Treatment of COVID-19,” published as an abstract at Frontiers in Pharmacology in January 2021, removed without a notice by March 1, 2021. Coverage by The Scientist here.
The article wasn’t as pro-Ivermectin as the sender presented it. First, it was titled “Indian State Will Offer Ivermectin To Entire Adult Population — Even As WHO Warns Against Its Use As Covid-19 Treatment”. So the title kinda tells you something is off. Secondly the small Indian state was pretty desperate: “36%. That’s the percentage of test samples that returned a positive result in Goa on Tuesday. Goa’s daily positivity rate hovered around 50% last week and it continues to be the highest in the country, implying a lack of adequate testing.” The article further mentioned the W.H.O. and the U.S. National Institutes of Health noted that there is insufficient data for it to recommend the use of the drug. Thirdly, Goa is India’s version of Florida and DeSantis: “The Goan chief minister Pramod Sawant and his government have faced criticism for failing to impose restrictions to control the spread of Covid-19 in the state…. the chief minister—who is a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing BJP party—insisted that he could both run the economy and keep the pandemic in check. “ So this was a situation like we’ve had in the U.S. where failing government leadership led to a COVID crisis and searched desperately for a magic bullet to cover for their mismanagement. Hey, why not try Ivermectin? People are dying anyway…
Here are just a few of the websites which posted lies about Ivermectin in India. You should avoid them for honest news about anything.
rielpolitik.com/2021/10/03/cover-up-indias-ivermectin-blackout-the-secret-revealed/ (now THAT one DOES sound Russian, doesn’t it?)
My Email and the ICMR Reply:
Mr. Dieguez is a native San Franciscan, longtime San Mateo County resident, and semi-retired entrepreneur who causes occasional controversy on the Coastside. He is a member of the MCC, but his opinions here are his own, and not those of the Council. He lives in Montara. He loves a productive dialog in search of shared understanding.