WE have been repeatedly told from the lofty (or is it self-interested?) heights of Western academia that ivermectin is ‘only a horse dewormer’ and no use for treating Covid, but what if, just for a moment, we lowered our gaze to what is happening on the ground? For the past month, I have been doing just that, on ground that is more than 5,000 miles away.
Earlier this year, I was put in contact with a Zimbabwean doctor by the name of Jackie Stone. Dr Stone is, as far as I’m aware, the only doctor in the world to have criminal charges filed against her for treating Covid patients with ivermectin. But she’s far from the only Zimbabwean doctor to have tried this treatment on her patients. Others, she told me, found the drug, when used in combination treatment (specifically with zinc) very effective at treating Covid patients if taken early enough. Though she stressed that ivermectin is not, as is often claimed, a ‘miracle drug’, some of the stories she told me did nonetheless sound miraculous. Upon hearing that a drug was able to raise a Covid patient’s oxygen levels from 39 per cent to 74 per cent, one must arrive at one of two conclusions: either the woman is mad, or there is a drug out there in need of serious exploration and discussion. Having arrived at the latter, it was only a matter of time before I arrived at Harare airport.
In January 2021, 17 of Zimbabwe’s top primary care physicians signed a letter to their government supporting the continued use of ivermectin in Covid patients after some academics, for reasons of their own, had tried to restrict its use to clinical trials only. On their claim that this was cheap, safe and effective way to end the pandemic I interviewed four of the letter’s signatories: Dr Enoch Tatira, Dr Frank Douie, Dr George Mingha and, of course, Dr Jackie Stone.
Dr Enoch Tatira, who was for four years president of the Zimbabwe Medical Association, and is himself vaccinated, said that it made no sense not to treat Covid early with ivermectin. There was, in his mind, no contradiction in being both vaccinated and using early treatment such as ivermectin.
Dr Frank Douie, one of Harare’s most respected doctors, asked me: ‘Why would you not throw everything that is safe and logical at this virus?’ So sure was he of this protocol that he said he said would rather give up his licence to practise than stop prescribing ivermectin. He mentioned that one of his colleagues arrogantly told him that he should be trying to ventilate his patients, crowing that they had intubated 171 of their own patients. ‘And how many of them died?’ Douie asked. The answer: 169.
Dr George Mingha had patients travel as far as 200km to be treated by him once it was known that he was using ivermectin. I asked him how he felt about the articles that seem to discredit the drug. He said he relied more on what he saw with his own eyes and questioned the funding of those seeking to cast them as misinformation. He also said that in some of those studies the dosing was so low that it was like ‘taking a quarter of an aspirin for migraine and wondering why it didn’t work’.
After he signed that letter supporting the use of ivermectin, Dr Mingha’s practice was raided by the HPA (Health Professions Authority). Seemingly trying to find anything they could to discredit or dishonour him with, they bizarrely confiscated a portable ultrasound scanning machine.
Doctor Jackie Stone’s encounter with the HPA was more sinister still. She told me how in January 2021 the HPA also launched an ‘illegitimate’ inspection against her. She was detained without clear charges in Harare Central Prison with the advice that charges would later be laid. Again, the HPA relied on finding anything that was wrong to incarcerate her without trial or bail.
Ivermectin’s critics must ask themselves this: if doctors who advocate this drug know they will be targeted, harassed and perhaps even be arrested with the threat of criminal charges, then why would they prescribe it if they didn’t think it worked?
I had my own experience with ivermectin. By some misfortune of chance, I managed to contract Covid a few days before I was set to fly out to Zimbabwe, thus delaying the trip. Being unvaccinated as well as leading what I would describe as a slightly bohemian lifestyle but what others might uncharitably call a hedonistic one (too many cigarettes and too much booze), I didn’t much fancy my chances with Covid.
So, through some contacts, I arranged to get my hands on that illicit horse dewormer. And, with Dr Stone’s advice, I then followed the protocol that she and her colleagues had found to be so effective in Zimbabwe. Of course, there’s no way of knowing how I would have fared without the stuff. All I can say is that three days after starting the protocol, I felt completely fine. As well as hopefully being Covid-free, I was assuredly free from any parasitic worms (excluding my ex-partner).
Studies on ivermectin’s effectiveness at treating Covid may be disputed, but one thing all seem to be in agreement on is that it is an astonishingly safe drug – Dr Stone put it to me that it is actually ‘20 times safer than paracetamol’. Strange that such a safe drug has acquired such a dangerous name. Stranger still that no one seems able to name any of its supposed dangers.
To whom is ivermectin a danger: patients, or Big Pharma profits?