Sunday, January 30, 2022

‘Science is flawed’: COVID-19, ivermectin, and beyond

In early 2020, people were desperate for any kind of treatment for COVID-19. A melange of partial evidence emerged.

This included: a laboratory study showing that the drug acted as a strong antiviral in a petri dish, a study in a French nursing home where the residents took ivermectin to treat a scabies outbreak and seemed to subsequently enjoy higher survival rates, and preprint reporting that ivermectin reduced the mortality from COVID-19 by 90%.

All three were weak evidence in different ways. Single in vitro studies are very poorly predictive of eventual clinical outcomes, and the nursing home paper was an accidental and uncontrolled observational study — what if the residents had never been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 in the first place?

The ivermectin story somehow got even worse from there. In late 2020, studies started popping up showing what can only be described as simply incredible results for the medication — a 90% mortality benefit or a 100% reduction in cases when used as a prophylactic.

After nearly a year, myself and other data sleuths demonstrated that many of these studies probably never happened, but the damage was well and truly done long before the first fake paper was retracted.

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