The claim: The National Institutes of Health added ivermectin to its list of COVID-19 treatments
Medical experts have repeatedly debunked claims that ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug used primarily for farm animals, can treat COVID-19.
Nevertheless, the assertion that ivermectin is an effective COVID-19 treatment continues to circulate on social media, especially among those who are not vaccinated, and now some are arguing the drug has been endorsed by federal health officials.
“Yesterday, the National institute (sic) of health added Ivermectin to the list of covid (sic) treatment,” reads a Sept. 1 tweet shared by Jake Shields, a professional mixed martial artist. “Looks like the conspiracy theorist (sic) were right and the ‘experts’ wrong (sic) once again.”
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A screenshot of Kelly’s tweet was shared on Instagram, where it garnered over 700 likes in less than a week. All together, Shields’ and Kelly’s tweets amassed over 64,000 likes.
But the claim is baseless.
The National Institutes of Health does not recommend ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment, according to the agency’s website. There is no evidence the agency recently changed its stance on ivermectin.
USA TODAY reached out to Shields, Kelly and the social media users who shared the claim for comment.
Agency has not changed its position on ivermectin
Ivermectin is included in the COVID-19 treatment guidelines section of the National Institutes of Health’s website, and it is labeled an anti-parasitic drug that is “being evaluated to treat COVID-19.” It has been in the treatment guidelines section for over a year, according to an archive.
The agency last updated its guidance on ivermectin in April and “recommends against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19, except in clinical trials.” There have been no recent changes to the guidance, according to USA TODAY’s analysis of archived pages.
The recommendation was primarily based on published, randomized controlled trials that showed “the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19 had no clinical benefit,” according to the agency’s website.
When contacted for comment, the National Institutes of Health referred USA TODAY to its website.
The FDA has either approved or given emergency-use authorizations to only a few drugs for the treatment of COVID-19, including remdesivir and molnupiravir, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that the National Institutes of Health added ivermectin to its list of COVID-19 treatments. The federal agency does not recommend ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment, according to its website. The agency has not made any recent updates regarding ivermectin.
Our fact-check sources:
- PolitiFact, Sept. 7, No, NIH doesn’t recommend using ivermectin to treat COVID-19
- Associated Press, Sept. 3, Posts mislead on NIH COVID-19 guidelines for ivermectin
- Amanda Fine, Sept. 9, Email exchange with USA TODAY
- Food and Drug Administration, Dec. 10, 2021, Why You Should Not Use Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent COVID-19
- National Institutes of Health, Aug. 18, Antiviral Therapy
- National Institutes of Health, April 29, Ivermectin
- National Institutes of Health accessed via Wayback Machine, June 12, 2021, Antiviral Therapy
- National Institutes of Health accessed via Wayback Machine, June 12, 2021, Ivermectin
- USA TODAY, Aug. 13, 2021, Fact check: Ivermectin is not a proven treatment for COVID-19
- USA TODAY, Feb. 2, Why do Americans keep taking ivermectin for COVID despite FDA warnings? Hundreds of doctors continue to prescribe it.
- National Institutes of Health, Aug. 8, Antiviral Drugs That Are Approved, Authorized, or Under Evaluation for the Treatment of COVID-19
- World Health Organization, March 31, 2021, WHO advises that ivermectin only be used to treat COVID-19 within clinical trials
- National Institutes of Health via Wayback Machine, accessed Sept. 12, Ivermectin
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Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.