On Monday, I posted a typically lengthy, detailed, and snarky article about how ivermectin is the new hydroxychloroquine. What I meant by that comparison is that, just as 12-15 months ago the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine was the repurposed drug touted as a “miracle cure” for COVID-19 that fizzled when tested with rigorous clinical trials, over the first half of 2021 the veterinary deworming drug ivermectin has become the repurposed drug touted as a “miracle cure” for COVID-19. Like hydroxychloroquine, which by the end of last summer I was describing as the Black Knight of COVID-19 treatments, an homage to (of course) the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, belief in ivermectin as a highly effective treatment for COVID-19—that will eliminate the need for vaccines, too!—seems similarly immune to having its limbs hacked off by science, the way that they were for hydroxychloroquine. This post won’t be as long—although it might be as snarky—and will deal more with the conspiracy theories that have cropped up around ivermectin. Unsurprisingly, they’re very similar to the conspiracy theories that cropped up around hydroxychloroquine. They’re even being people, people such as the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC).
Of course, I mentioned the FLCCC in my last post about ivermectin. The reason was because of its role in producing the latest “meta-analysis” of ivermectin clinical trials. Basically, Pierre Kory, one of the founders of the FLCCC, collaborated with Tess Lawrie, the founder of the British equivalent of the FLCCC, the BIRD Group. Both are groups that promote ivermectin, although the FLCCC promotes more than just ivermectin. For instance, FLCCC promotes protocols such as the I-MASS protocol, touted as an “in-home” treatment protocol for COVID-19 that involves vitamin D3, melatonin, aspirin, a multivitamin, a thermometer, and an antiseptic mouthwash. Another FLCCC protocol is I-MASK, which is promoted as an outpatient treatment protocol and involves ivermectin, zinc, melatonin, various vitamins, and fluvoxamine. The FLCCC’s most “advanced” protocol is MATH+, a hospital treatment protocol that involves—of course!—ivermectin, plus zinc, fluvoxamine, and a bunch of other vitamins and supplements, along with steroids and anticoagulants. None of these protocols has anything resembling solid evidence from randomized clinical trials to support it.
This brings me to an article that was posted late last night on the website of über-quack Joe Mercola, entitled The Biggest Crime Committed During Vaccine Heist. You can see from the very title the implied conspiracy, namely that evidence for the efficacy of ivermectin is being “suppressed” so that vaccines can be foisted on the world, to the enormous profit of big pharma. Of course, Mercola, as he was before, is very impressed with Tess Lawrie and the “evidence” of her recent meta-analysis. Since I already deconstructed that meta-analysis in detail the other day and there now exists another, even better, explanation why that meta-analysis is a bad one that, with a very minor change in classification of studies included, results in a completely negative finding, I won’t be repeating that analysis. I’ve already done that. For purposes of his post, I’m more interested in the conspiracy theories the FLCCC and BIRD Group are promoting.
The first observation I feel the need to make here is a simple one. Tess Lawrie promotes herself as a “respectable” researcher whose work on ivermectin is being scorned due to the nefarious machinations of big pharma and the ideological blindness of other physicians, which leads me to a word of advice. The last thing a “respectable researcher” wants to do is to be featured by Joe Mercola or to be interviewed on a podcast like Speaking Naturally. Why? It’s the official podcast of the Alliance for Natural Health, a pro-quackery group that’s rabidly antivaccine. I’ve discussed the ANH before. Let’s just say that ANH-USA is not just antivaccine, but promotes cancer quackery (such as Stanislaw Burzynski’s antineoplastons), among other pseudoscience. Particularly amusing to me has been the ANH-USA’s ranting against state medical boards that actually try to rein in quacks. Again, this is not the sort of group you want to appear with if you want any serious scientist or academic physician to take you and your work seriously. It’s just one step above Mike Adams or Alex Jones—barely.
Here’s the podcast:
Let’s look at Mercola’s bullet points:
- While the list of crimes committed by authorities during the COVID-19 pandemic is a long one, perhaps the biggest crime of all is the purposeful suppression of safe and effective treatments, including ivermectin. This appears to have been done to protect the COVID “vaccine” program
- The COVID shots were brought to market under emergency use authorization (EUA), which can only be obtained if there are no other safe and effective alternatives available
- Several systematic reviews and meta-analyses of studies looked at ivermectin for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 infection. A rapid review performed on behalf of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) in the U.S., January 3, 2021, found the drug “probably reduces deaths by an average 83% compared to no ivermectin treatment”
- According to a more recent review and meta-analysis, ivermectin, when used preventatively, reduced COVID-19 infection by an average 86%
- Another recent scientific review concluded ivermectin produces large statistically significant reductions in mortality, time to clinical recovery, and time to viral clearance
See what I mean? The idea is the same idea that I heard incessantly over a year ago about hydroxychloroquine, namely that the evidence for the overwhelming efficacy of HCQ against COVID-19 is being “suppressed” in order to protect the profits of big pharma, which at the time was developing new antivirals and, or course, the COVID-19 vaccines, the latter of which have been enormously effective and successful since the release of the first two vaccines under an emergency use approval (EUA) in December 2020.
To set the stage, Mercola goes on and on on about how a “gold standard review” of the evidence for ivermectin supports its use, reporting a 62% reduction in mortality due to the coronavirus associated with use of the drug. Again, that meta-analysis shows nothing of the sort, because of the principle of “garbage in, garbage out.” In fact, the highest quality clinical trials thus far all show no detectable effect from ivermectin on COVID-19 hospitalizations or mortality. He then pivots to how the World Health Organization is supposedly “suppressing” ivermectin.
Which brings us to the conspiracy theory:
But why? Why don’t they want people to feel confident that there’s treatment out there and that COVID-19 is not the death sentence they’ve been led to believe it is? The short answer is because ivermectin threatens the vaccine program. As explained by Andrew Bannister in a May 12, 2021, Biz News article:15
What if there was a cheap drug, so old its patent had expired, so safe that it’s on the WHO’s lists of Essential and Children’s Medicines, and used in mass drug administration rollouts?
What if it can be taken at home with the first signs COVID symptoms, given to those in close contact, and significantly reduce COVID disease progression and cases, and far fewer few people would need hospitalization?
The international vaccine rollout under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) would legally have to be halted. For an EUA to be legal, ‘there must be no adequate, approved and available alternative to the candidate product for diagnosing, preventing or treating the disease or condition.’
The vaccines would only become legal once they passed level 4 trials and that certainly won’t happen in 2021 … The vaccine rollout, outside of trials, would become illegal.
The vaccine manufactures, having spent hundreds of million dollars developing and testing vaccines during a pandemic, would not see the $100bn they were expecting in 2021 … Allowing any existing drug, at this time, well into stage 3 trials, to challenge the legality of the EUA of vaccines, is not going to happen easily.
Why, then, would the WHO “suppress” this suppose miracle cure for COVID-19? I bet you can guess where this is going. Enter Bill Gates!
Because, of course Bill Gates is involved:
The WHO’s rejection of ivermectin only makes sense if a) you take into account the EUA requirements; and b) remember that the WHO receives a significant portion of its funding from private vaccine interests.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the second largest funder of the WHO after the United States, and The GAVI Alliance, also owned by Gates, is the fourth largest donor. The GAVI Alliance exists solely to promote and profit from vaccines, and for several years, the WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, served on the GAVI board of directors.16
And, of course, according to Joe Mercola Merck is in on it, because its patent on ivermectin expired 25 years ago and it no longer makes much money off of the drug, although it did receive a $356 million contract from the US government to develop an antiviral treatment for COVID-19.
Besides quoting the bad meta-analysis by the Bird Group, Mercola cites the FLCCC and its bad science. If you’ve been reading this blog more than a year and a half, ask yourself if this passage sounds familiar to you:
The FLCCC also points out that ivermectin distribution campaigns have resulted in “rapid population-wide decreases in morbidity and mortality,” which indicate that ivermectin is “effective in all phases of COVID-19.” For example, in Brazil, three regions distributed ivermectin to its residents, while at least six others did not. The difference in average weekly deaths is stark.
In Santa Catarina, average weekly deaths declined by 36% after two weeks of ivermectin distribution, whereas two neighboring regions in the South saw declines of just 3% and 5%. Amapa in the North saw a 75% decline, while the Amazonas had a 42% decline and Para saw an increase of 13%.
You might recall that this is exactly the same sort of argument that was made for the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine a year ago. Comparing the rates of COVID-19 deaths in various countries based on their use of hydroxychloroquine was risibly bad science then, and comparing the rates of COVID-19 deaths in various regions in Brazil based on their use of ivermectin now is equally risibly bad science now. Funny how the FLCCC doesn’t mention India. In May, ivermectin was being offered to every citizen of India as the pandemic was killing thousands of people a day in that country. This somehow lead to bizarre claims that ivermectin was “crushing” COVID-19 in India, claims based on highly dubious “analyses” supposedly correlating ivermectin use with decreased numbers of deaths in various regions of India. ultimately, the Indian health ministry ditched ivermectin as a recommended treatment earlier this month because—surprise, surprise!—it could find no evidence that ivermectin was working. No wonder the FLCCC didn’t mention India.
Of course, the FLCCC claims that ivermectin doesn’t just prevent and treat COVID-19. That’s not enough for them! No, the FLCCC goes beyond that, claiming that ivermectin also prevents the the condition that’s becoming known as COVID long haul syndrome. This is a syndrome that’s been reported in people who have recovered from COVID-19 but continue to have persistent symptoms for weeks or even months later that include fatigue, “brain fog,” persistent lost of taste or smell, persistent cough, shortness of breath, and other chronic problems. It’s estimated that somewhere between 10% and 33% of those who recover from COVID-19, even mild cases, can develop long haul symptoms.
Back to the FLCCC:
The FLCCC believes ivermectin may also be an important treatment adjunct for long-haul COVID syndrome. In their June 16, 2021, video update, the team reviewed the newly released I-RECOVER protocol.
Keep in mind that ivermectin is not to be used in isolation. Corticosteroids, for example, are often a crucial treatment component when organizing pneumonia-related lung damage is present. Vitamin C is also important to combat inflammation. Be sure to work with your doctor to identify the right combination of drugs and supplements for you.
Last but not least, as noted by Kory in this video, it’s really important to realize that long-haul syndrome is entirely preventable. The key is early treatment when you develop symptoms of COVID-19.
Of course, steroids, at least, are known to be effective in preventing the most severe lung damage from COVID-19. They’re no panacea, of course, but they work. The amusing thing is that dexamethasone, the steroid most widely used to treat severe COVID-19, is dirt cheap, having been off patent for a very long time. Although the FLCCC does include dexamethasone (or other corticosteroids) in its protocol, one wonders why the conspiracy theorists don’t spin conspiracy theories about dexamethasone being “suppressed” because it’s so cheap and pharma can’t make enough money selling it. Oh, that’s right! It’s because steroids aren’t being “suppressed”! That’s because, unlike the case for ivermectin, HCQ, and all the other vitamins and treatments other than steroids in the FLCCC’s various COVID-19 protocols, steroids have actually been shown scientifically to work. Funny that!
Before I finish, I’d like to revisit the video above of Tess Lawrie appearing on the podcast of the quackery-promoting group ANH-USA. I must admit that I nearly spit up my coffee laughing when she started out describing how she had formed a nonprofit company called Evidence-Based Medicine Consultancy, Ltd. to “accommodate this new work we’re doing around ivermectin and other COVID-related research,” but, more risibly, how her company is “completely independent and has “no conflicts of interest.” Seriously? As I mentioned last time, she founded an organization, the BIRD Group, whose purpose is to promote the use of ivermectin! That’s a pretty hefty conflict of interest in my books! That’s why I was totally unsurprised to see her immediately pivot to the same conspiracy theory that the FLCCC and Joe Mercola are promoting, namely that there’s no incentive for big pharma to research ivermectin because it’s so cheap, which is true but misleading in that it is the grain of truth in the conspiracy theory that undergirds the other claims, namely that the WHO, Bill Gates, Merck, big pharma, and the rest are “suppressing” ivermectin in order to protect the vaccine program and the massive profits that it can bring.
Lawrie even uses the same bad science that I described above when she touts how Peru used ivermectin last year and “greatly benefited from it” but that a new president took over and stopped its use leading to—you guessed it!—a resurgence of COVID-19:
It seemingly never occurs to her that there might be a number of other causes for such an occurrence. In any event, if you’re using anecdotal evidence that confuses correlation with causation that’s as bad as what was used by astroturf groups that promoted HCQ a year ago (and are using the same bad arguments to promote ivermectin as well now), I really have to wonder how you managed to get a PhD.
Basically, Tess Lawrie is all-in on conspiracy theories. She even goes on and on about how the “mainstream media are colluding” to suppress ivermectin, because of course she does. And look at some of the imagery in the podcast:
Nothing like an image of gravestones in a cemetery to make your point!
I once wrote about how all science denial is rooted in conspiracy theories. The FLCCC, BIRD Group, and Tess Lawrie illustrate a corollary of that principle, which is this: If you sense that conspiracy theories are being used to support a seemingly scientific argument, you should look deeper. Use of conspiracy theories to support an argument, are almost always a very good indication that what is being promoted is ideologically motivated bad science and/or pseudoscience. I see nothing in the FLCCC or BIRD Group that disabuses me of that rule of thumb. That goes double when the FLCCC claims that ivermectin works based on bad science, while claiming that doing a proper placebo-controlled randomized controlled clinical trial would be “unethical” because they already “know” that ivermectin works against COVID-19, spurning such trials because “people are dying.”