First it was their confused stance on wearing face masks at the onset of the pandemic, then their controversial decision to drop Remdesivir from a list of approved drugs to treat Covid 19 in November and now it’s the WHO’s latest advisory against using the oral anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin for Covid 19 treatment, which appeared in the form of a Tweet on by none other than their Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan, that has ruffled feathers.
She wrote, ‘Safety and efficacy are important when using any drug for a new indication. @WHO recommends against the use of Ivermectin for #COVID19 except within clinical trials’. Not only has this statement led global scientists to question the WHO’s motives but has also resulted in a legal notice being slapped on Dr Swaminathan by the Indian Bar Association, for running a disinformation campaign against Ivermectin by deliberate suppression of effectiveness of the drug as prophylaxis and treatment for Covid 19, and for issuing statements in social and mainstream media, influencing the public against the use of Ivermectin.
The notice is based on the research and trials carried out by Frontline Line Covid 19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) and the British Ivermectin Recommendation Development Panel (BIRD)…certain global scientists are miffed as they say the findings of many trials have been disregarded. What’s more in the absence of alternatives they feel that the WHO should not arbitrarily disqualify drugs as it confuses people. Dr Subhash Hira, a medical doctor and scientist on several WHO review panels says, “support ivermectin’s use until more effective anti-Covid medicines are discovered. Otherwise 80 percent of the world’s population will have no medicines to treat Covid”.
Data paints a different picture
A paper on the real time meta analyses of 56 studies on the efficacy of Ivermectin which was published in November last year and updated at the end of May 2021 has revealed the following findings.
97 percent of 37 studies where Ivermectin was used for early treatment of Covid-19 or as a prophylaxis, report positive effects of the drug. 95 percent of all studies (not just early treatment and prophylaxis) have reported positive effects. 81 percent and 96 percent lower mortality is observed for early treatment and prophylaxis studies.
100 percent of the 17 randomized controlled trials (also part of the 56 studies) for early treatment and prophylaxis report positive effects with an estimated improvement of 73 percent and 83 percent respectively. Statistically significant improvements are seen for mortality, ventilation, hospitalization and viral clearance the paper reveals. As is evident Ivermectin is useful at an early stage or as a prophylaxis. Why then has the WHO wilfully ignored the mountains of data that shows this? Ask some global scientists.
The legal notice served to Dr Swaminathan mentions, that she has included a hyperlink in her Tweet which upon clicking takes the reader to a page on the website of pharmaceutical major Merck, that displays a statement dated Feb 4, 2021 titled, ‘Merck Statement on Ivermectin use during Covid Pandemic’. Merck has stated there is “no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against Covid 19 from pre clinical studies and no evidence for clinical efficacy in patients”. They also claim that there is a concerning lack of safety data in the majority of the studies conducted. However the recently published paper says safety data can be found in most studies.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Merck was the original developer of Ivermectin- which is approved by the WHO and widely used as a treatment for scabies, river blindness and strongyloidiasis. However Ivermectin is now off patent with a number of pharma companies making generic versions.
As Dr Hira points out, it is now a very inexpensive drug, costing about one cent a tablet. In India, you can buy a strip of 10 tablets for Rs 290. An article in a medical journal – Desert Review – argues that Merck came out against Ivermectin only after the US Govt granted it 356 million dollars to develop a new drug for Covid 19 called MK7110.
Merck is also working with a few Indian Pharma majors on introducing this drug in India, which is in the pipeline for FDA approval. The article states that there is a conflict of interest for Merck, as the chances of Ivermectin successfully competing against are high if Ivermectin is seen as an effective drug for Covid in the early stages. Merck is unlikely to be able to compete with low cost manufacturers of Ivermectin.
The grievance is being voiced by many international medical journals and scientists but not much attention has been received in the mainstream media yet…