Ivermectin, the Parasite Drug Touted by Portland Podcaster Bret Weinstein, Is Shown to Be Worthless for Treating COVID-19

A big, comprehensive study flies in the face of Weinstein’s claims.

Sign at Linnton Feed & Seed Linnton Feed & Seed experienced a run on Ivermectin. (Thomas Teal)

Bret Weinstein, a former biology professor at Evergreen State College, rode ivermectin to fame and fortune. He and his wife Heather Heying said the drug, used most often to deworm cattle and horses, could eradicate COVID-19 by preventing and treating infection.

Weinstein’s pro-ivermectin, anti-vaxx stance made him a darling among Trumpers and Tea Partiers. He appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast four times, talked with Tucker Carlson on Fox, and Bill Maher on HBO. The appearances boosted interest in his own Dark Horse podcast, which he hosts with Heying from their 3,500-square-foot home in Southwest Portland. They have 416,000 subscribers on YouTube alone, and a book they wrote last year was a bestseller (albeit briefly).

“The evidence is surprisingly compelling, indicating Ivermectin dramatically improves outcomes in COVID patients, and is very effective preventing infection,” Weinstein tweeted on May 29, 2021.

Lately, though, science has caught up to them.

The latest, best studies show that ivermectin does little to prevent or treat COVID. A bombshell arrived this week, when the New England Journal of Medicine, the ne plus ultra of medical research, published a study showing that ivermectin did nothing to treat COVID infections or keep them from worsening to the point of hospitalization.

“Treatment with ivermectin did not result in a lower incidence of medical admission to a hospital,” the researchers wrote. “There were no significant effects of ivermectin use on secondary outcomes or adverse events.” The secondary outcomes included death.

In short, ivermectin did nothing to cure COVID-19. Unlike the previous studies that got people like Weinstein and Heying fired up about the drug, this one was double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, and large, with 3,515 patients.

Weinstein didn’t return a text or an email seeking comment.

“There’s really no sign of any benefit,” Dr. David Boulware, an infectious-disease expert at the University of Minnesota, told the New York Times about the study on March 30. “Now that people can dive into the details and the data, hopefully that will steer the majority of doctors away from ivermectin towards other therapies.”

Weinstein and Heying have backed away from ivermectin themselves recently. If Weinstein has mentioned the drug on Twitter this year, he has deleted those posts. His last full-throated pitches for ivermectin appear to have been last June.

“I am unvaccinated, but I am on prophylactic ivermectin,” Weinstein said on his podcast back then. “And the data—shocking as this will be to some people—suggest that prophylactic ivermectin is something like 100% effective at preventing people from contracting COVID.”

As the evidence has mounted against ivermectin, Weinstein has turned to other topics that fire up the far right. He has spoken against The New York Times, Joe Biden, Neil Young, Remdesivir, Pfizer, and Newsweek. He tweeted regular support for the Canadian truckers who blockaded downtown Ottawa to protest Canada’s COVID precautions.

“Dear #FreedomConvoy, the Canadian Gov. is in breach of its sacred obligation to its citizens. This is #Tyranny. So far your protest is an honorable act of civil disobedience against a historic violation of the Nuremberg Code,” Weinstein tweeted Feb. 15. “Don’t be lured into violence. #HoldTheLine for us all.”

He has been consistent in one thing: his vaccine skepticism. Despite overwhelming evidence that vaccines keep people away from hospitals and out of the grave, Weinstein continues to warn of their supposed dangers. He’s also livid about mask mandates, which he equates with tyranny.

“If you live where people are still wearing masks, consider not wearing one—before the mandates end,” he tweeted March 2. “The timeline for lifting mandates reveals the fiction. Not complying is key to recapturing your dignity and asserting your right not to be gaslit by your government.”

So, beyond the truckers, what is Weinstein for, exactly? Maybe Tulsi Gabbard, the former U.S. representative (D-Hawaii), who claims that the U.S. secretly funded biological research laboratories in Ukraine.

“I voted for @TulsiGabbard,” Weinstein tweeted Feb. 15. “What ‘Biden’ does is not done in my name.”

Gabbard made her Ukraine claims on Tucker Carlson’s show. She and Weinstein have a friend in common, it appears.

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