If you subscribe to alternative treatments for COVID-19, it might be heartening to you that you can easily purchase one of the treatments right here in Kerr County.
Of course, if you believe in being treated by a doctor and not an animal feed store, there might be some things to consider.
We're talking about ivermectin — the livestock de-wormer that has suddenly become the go-to drug for those who don't want to get vaccinated or wear a mask. At Ingram's Double LL Ranch & Wildlife Feed, they are advertising ivermectin on the marquee. On the following line, it says: "safe-guard."
Now, in 2015 the scientists behind the drug's transition from a livestock medication to the one used to treat parasites in humans were awarded the Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine. Interestingly, a treatment for malaria to replace the sagging efficacy of chloroquine shared the Nobel Prize.
Discovered initially by Japanese scientists, ivermectin has been heralded as a wonder drug by some because of its ability to contain disfiguring parasitic diseases that cause blindness or lymphatic filariasis — a form of elephantiasis, or enlargement of limbs.
The problem, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned about, is that ivermectin is not proven to be an effective treatment against COVID-19. The evidence is anecdotal.
The other problem is that the drug is easily available for topical application for horses and other livestock. It also comes with the following warning:
"Do not treat cattle within 48 days of slaughter. Do not use in female dairy cattle of breeding age or in veal calves. Do not use in other animal species not on the label, as severe adverse reactions, including fatalities in dogs, may result."
And that's where the problem lies — people taking it without a doctor's supervision. There are numerous examples of people using the livestock version and getting sickened by it. Even the human-approved versions are a single dose delivered annually.
The journal Nature published an article last month detailing the problem with one study credited with spurring the COVID-19 use of the drug and how scientists repudiated the study.
Nature reported that one of the initial study's authors was Egyptian scientist Ahmed Elgazzar at Benha University in Egypt, who still defends the study that suggests the drug is capable of reducing the risk of death from COVID-19.
"Early in the pandemic, scientists showed that ivermectin could inhibit the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in cells in laboratory studies," Nature wrote. "But data on ivermectin's efficacy against COVID-19 in people are still scarce, and study conclusions conflict greatly, making the withdrawal of a major trial particularly noteworthy."
The side effects of ivermectin can be lovely things like vomiting, diarrhea and other issues.
The use of ivermectin has become championed by those critical of vaccines, including online talk show hosts Joe Rogan and Alex Jones. Rogan said he tested positive for COVID-19, was prescribed the drug and felt remarkably better.
Of course, he might have felt better if the vaccine had been in his system. However, the battle of COVID-19 continues and treating it is part of that conversation. In Rogan's case, he at least took the drug under a doctor's supervision but buying a drug without that supervision may invite the worst kind of trouble.