Posts mislead on NIH COVID-19 guidelines for ivermectin
CLAIM: The National Institutes of Health recently added ivermectin to a list of COVID-19 treatments.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The NIH COVID-19 treatment guidelines website says the agency recommends against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19, except in clinical trials. The page outlining data on antiviral medications has included an entry for ivermectin since at least June 2021.
THE FACTS: Social media users in recent days shared the false claim that the NIH just added ivermectin to a website on COVID-19 treatments, with many suggesting that the agency was now endorsing the anti-parasitic drug for use against the virus.
“Yesterday the National institute of health added Ivermectin to the list of covid treatment,” reads one Twitter post from Thursday with more than 44,000 likes. “Looks like the conspiracy theorist were right and the ‘experts’ wrong once again.”
Another Tweet with over 39,000 likes reads: “Suddenly Ivermectin shows up on the NIH website for treating Covid. After years of denial, blocking, interference, villification, ruining social media accounts, killing people, etc. they silently add it to their antiviral protocol.”
Many of the tweets point to an NIH webpage on the agency’s COVID-19 treatment guidelines that provides information on antiviral therapies that are being evaluated, or have been evaluated, as possible treatments for COVID-19.
However, the page does not say the NIH recommends using ivermectin for treating COVID. Clicking the entry for ivermectin leads to a page that says: “The Panel recommends against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19, except in clinical trials.”
The entry for ivermectin is also not new. Caches stored by the Internet Archive’s WayBack Machine shows the data for ivermectin studies has been listed on the antiviral therapies page as early as June 2021. The specific ivermectin page at the time said: “There are insufficient data for the COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel (the Panel) to recommend either for or against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19.” The page was updated on April 29, 2022, to add the current language recommending against treating COVID with ivermectin.
Dr. H. Clifford Lane, clinical director at the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, confirmed to The Associated Press that the panel that oversees the COVID-19 treatment guidelines does not recommend ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment, except in clinical trials.
“The body of evidence suggests it does not work. There are other medications that have strong evidence of efficacy. The concerns are not about safety but lack of efficacy,” said Lane in an email to the AP. Lane is also one of three co-chairs of a panel that oversees those guidelines.
Ivermectin is not authorized or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use against COVID-19, and most health experts and agencies recommend against prescribing the anti-parasite drug for this purpose.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.