Thecoronavirus COVID-19 was already looking dangerous in February of 2020. More than 75,000 cases had been reported in China, the death toll was approaching 3,000, and virologists around the world were warning of an epidemic—with no medicine to fight it.
Then, late in the month, Mirta Carvallo, M.D. a retired pediatric dermatologist in Buenos Aires, Argentina, heard a rumor. “Something’s going on with ivermectin in Australia,” she told her husband, Hector. Researchers at Monash University had reportedly neutralized the Covid virus in laboratory tests, she said.
“I am not ashamed to say I cried when we got the results,” Carvallo recalls in a recent Zoom interview.
Alas, months later, “I cried again,” Carvallo says. That’s when medical authorities in Argentina—and soon others around the world—began their ongoing effort to suppress public knowledge of ivermectin’s efficacy and safety, and to question Carvallo’s results and attack his reputation.
It’s a story the world, and history, needs to know.
And so, in early March—three months before the Australians would report in the journal Antiviral Research that ivermectin had effected a 5,000-fold reduction of Covid in vitro—Carvallo and Hirsch wrote to the Journal of the about its exciting possibilities. Association
“But theof JAMA said he was not interested. He gave us no good reason,” Carvallo recalls with a shrug. “I was surprised. I wrote to say, ‘At least take it as a possibility,’ but we never heard back. So, we decided to form our own trials. We would replicate what the Australians had done in vitro, but we would do it in vivo.”
Instead of testing ivermectin against Covid in a glass dish, they would test it in the human body.
Unfunded, informal, and using donated medicine, the trial began in late April, with 131 subjects taking ivermectin and 98 not. Each person in the test group was given 8 mg of ivermectin per hundred pounds of body weight once weekly, along with several daily nasal spritzes of carrageenan, shown effective in reducing intake of rhinoviruses and other airborne pathogens.
A month later, Carvallo and Hirsch could scarcely believe the results. “Among the 98 who did not take ivermectin, eleven had contracted the virus,” he recalls in our interview. “Of the 131 [who received ivermectin], nobody had.
By then they had launched an observational treatment trial of patients already infected with Covid, modeled on the protocol they had proposed months earlier to JAMA. Starting in June they enrolled 135 outpatients presenting mild Covid symptoms, and 32 inpatients with moderate to severe symptoms.
All were given ivermectin weekly, based on body weight and severity of symptoms, typically oral drops in doses ranging between 24 and 48 milligrams. All hospitalized participants received 4 mg of the corticosteroiddexamethasone by injection, and aspirin or a bloodthinner depending on severity of symptoms. The most seriously ill were on ventilators.
After four weeks, none of the 135 outpatients required hospitalization, and one inpatient had died. That was an 82-year-old man, with severe co-morbidities, who had been admitted at the hospital in a desperate condition.
“And that’s when I cried again, from frustration. I’m not ashamed to say I cried, because it’s true.”
A year and a half later, with the Delta variant on the rise—and reports of an even more virulent strain circulating in the Amazon rain forest—ivermectin still struggles for official recognition as an anti-Covid agent despite the large body of research in its favor.
In May, 2021, for example, the journal Antibiotics Review published a metanalysis of ivermectin showing that “100 percent of 36 early treatment and prophylaxis studies report positive effects” against Covid, with 26 of those trials reporting “statistically significant improvements.”