Federal researchers will not objectively study ivermectin as a treatment for Covid-19, the Kentucky senator Rand Paul claimed, because “hatred for Donald Trump” has tainted their view of those who say the drug used to deworm horses can aid the fight against the pandemic.
Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic, does have uses in humans, to treat worms, lice and skin problems. But despite it having been discussed by doctors in testimony before Congress, it is not proven to combat Covid-19.
Doctors have also warned against its potential toxicity. Earlier this month, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a terse tweet: “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that a meeting with constituents in Cold Spring, Kentucky, on Friday, Paul said: “The hatred for Trump deranged these people so much, they’re unwilling to objectively study it.
“So someone like me that’s in the middle on it, I can’t tell you because they will not study ivermectin. They will not study hydroxychloroquine without the taint of their hatred for Donald Trump.”
Trump both promoted and said he was using hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, when in office. Doctors warned against side-effects and studies said it had little or no effect in preventing hospitalisation or death from Covid-19.
The FDA says taking large doses of ivermectin is “dangerous and can cause serious harm” and adds: “Never use medications intended for animals on yourself. Ivermectin preparations for animals are very different from those approved for humans.”
In Cold Spring, responding to a woman’s question about ivermectin, which she said she kept just in case, Paul said: “I don’t know if it works, but I keep an open mind.”
Before politics, Paul was an ophthalmologist. His attempts to keep an open mind on Covid-19 have led to high-profile clashes in hearings with Dr Anthony Fauci, the chief White House medical adviser. Paul has been criticised for being reluctant to wear a mask and this month saw his YouTube account suspended for claiming masks were not effective against Covid.
The Enquirer reported that Paul “spent a large portion of the town hall … criticising vaccine and mask mandates”.
According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 637,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the US. The infectious Delta variant has fuelled a surge in hospitalisations and deaths, particularly in states run by Republicans resistant to public health mandates. The overwhelming majority of hospitalisations and deaths are among unvaccinated people.
Paul told his town hall he was “in the middle ground of the vaccines” and had “already recommended if you’re at risk to take it … It’s still your choice. It’s a free country”.
Over the weekend, it was widely reported that a Texas man who led protests in the name of freedom and against public health mandates had died of Covid-19. Caleb Wallace’s wife said the 30-year-old treated his symptoms with Vitamin C, zinc, aspirin and ivermectin.
Jessica Wallace said: “To those who wished him death, I’m sorry his views and opinions hurt you. I prayed he’d come out of this with a new perspective and more appreciation for life.”
Wallace leaves his wife, three children and a fourth yet to be born.