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Fact Check-Mexico no longer including ivermectin in home COVID-19 care kits, contrary to claims on social media

Social media users have recently circulated an image allegedly showing a home COVID-19 care kit delivered by the Mexican government that contains ivermectin.

“This is the Ivermectin Kit the Mexican Government is giving its Citizens for Free,” reads a tweet from Jan. 17 that has garnered more than 20,700 retweets ( here ); ( here ).

Starting Jan. 4, 2022, the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) stopped including ivermectin in their home COVID-19 care kits for ambulatory patients, the IMSS Directorate of Medical Benefits told Reuters.

Ivermectin is an approved drug by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration for treating parasites in animals and humans ( here ). The agency has repeatedly warned against using it for COVID-19 ( here ), ( here ). Ongoing clinical trials for ivermectin as a viable treatment for COVID-19 can be found ( here ).

While ivermectin was distributed by the IMSS in 2021 (prior to the suspension of this policy in January 2022), other government organizations in the country always recommended against its use to treat COVID-19.

On Jan. 28, 2021, a panel of public health institutions in Mexico ( bit.ly/3KLS8xK ), concluded there was no evidence on the efficacy of ivermectin against COVID-19, either by itself or combined with azithromycin ( here ).

By Aug. 2, 2021, the Federal government’s clinical guide for the treatment of COVID-19 did not include ivermectin, as its benefits had not been proven “with the adequate level of evidence”. The government’s guide also said that ivermectin should only be used in the context of clinical investigation ( here, see pages 6 and 37).

The kit referred to in the social media posts was part of the COVID-19 response of IMSS, Mexico’s main public health service( www.imss.gob.mx/conoce-al-imss ).

Between Dec. 21, 2020 and Dec. 30, 2021, IMSS distributed 465,345 of kits for home treatment for SARS-CoV-2 patients that contained ivermectin, the Directorate of Medical Benefits of the IMSS told Reuters via email.

An IMSS activity report explains (see page 155 here) that these kits were delivered to non-severe patients. It included ivermectin, aspirin, paracetamol, azithromycin as well as face-masks and an oximeter.

Starting Jan. 4, 2021, the kit distributed by IMSS contains paracetamol, masks, an oximeter and a flyer with guidance, according to the directorate.

“Ivermectin was incorporated into the treatment kits as a result of the review of the most important research studies that had been published up to that time, a review that was completed on January 9, 2021, containing evidence from the medical-scientific literature on the world,” the directorate told Reuters.

In terms of the decision to stop including ivermectin, the directorate referred to WHO’s latest publication of “Therapeutics and COVID-19: living guideline” (updated on Jan. 14) which states ivermectin should only be use “as a drug in the setting of clinical trials.” ( here )

(This recommendation, however, is not new and traces back to March 31, 2021 ( here )

Mexican news magazine Proceso reported on this inconsistency between the IMSS kits with ivermectin and the federal government’s official guidance ( here ).

The Directorate of Medical Benefits of the IMSS did not immediately respond to Reuters enquiry about this.

IMSS director, Zoé Robledo previously described COVID-19 vaccination as the way out to the COVID-19 pandemic ( here ).

As of Jan. 24, Mexico registered 4,667,829 infections and 303,183 COVID-19 related deaths, per Reuters tally ( here ). The country reached a new peak in contagions last week, with an increase of 60,552 confirmed cases on Jan. 19, health ministry data showed (see “casos confirmados” on page 4) ( here ), ( here ).

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .

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