A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reveals that a significant number of U.S. adults have reported using ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 despite the lack of evidence that these medications are effective against the virus.
The study, which included 13,438 participants from all 50 states, found that 6 percent of those who had previously contracted COVID-19 had used either ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine as a treatment.
Ivermectin is primarily used to treat infections caused by parasitic worms, head lice, or rosacea in humans. At the same time, the FDA briefly authorized hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 treatment in 2020, but it was later found ineffective and potentially harmful. The fact that the FDA does not approve these medications for treating SARS-CoV-2 makes their use concerning.
One of the study’s striking findings was the correlation between endorsement of vaccine misinformation and the usage of these unproven treatments. Participants who believed in at least one piece of vaccine misinformation were significantly more likely to turn to ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine.
Additionally, individuals who trusted social media platforms scored higher on the American Conspiracy Thinking Scale or expressed trust in former President Trump were more inclined to use these medications.
Surprisingly, the study found that the source of news also played a role in individuals’ decision to use unproven treatments. Participants who reported receiving information from sources such as CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and Facebook were likelier to opt for non-evidence-based treatments.
However, it is worth noting that Facebook stood out from the pattern observed with cable news sources, as it was associated with a higher likelihood of non-evidence-based treatment but not with FDA-approved antiviral therapies.
Contrary to popular belief, the researchers emphasized that political affiliation alone was not the sole indicator for the usage of these medications. While conservative individuals were more likely to endorse unproven treatments, factors such as vaccine misinformation, mistrust in healthcare institutions, and conspiratorial thinking, all contributed to the likelihood of someone resorting to ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine.
The study’s authors emphasized that these factors should not be considered proxies for political affiliation.
The usage of unproven treatments poses a significant concern, as it jeopardizes individuals’ health and contributes to the perpetuation of misinformation. The FDA has repeatedly warned against using ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 treatment, citing their lack of efficacy and potential side effects.
It is crucial for the public to rely on evidence-based information from reputable sources and to consult with healthcare professionals before considering any COVID-19 treatment.