Fact Check-2015 Nobel Prize for ivermectin intended for treatment of parasitic infections doesn’t prove its efficacy on COVID-19

Correction Sep. 23, 2021: paragraph one has been corrected to clarify that the drug Ivermectin was not awarded the Nobel Prize. Rather, the prize was awarded to two scientists for their discoveries involving the drug.

Social media users claim that the drug Ivermectin is safe to use as it received the Nobel Prize in 2015. While two scientists did win the prize for the medication, this was for parasitic infections and it does not mean the drug is a safe or effective drug in the treatment of COVID-19, a virus. As of this article’s publication, public health authorities in the United States are not recommending ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19. Scientific studies are ongoing.

Examples can be seen here and here .

The text in the image reads: “IVERMECTIN. If you just got finessed into calling the medicine that won the 2015 Nobel Prize for its role in treating human disease ‘horse de-wormer’, then you need to sit the next couple of plays out.”

The description in one post reads: “Ivermectin has been given to humans 3.7 billion times in the past 30 years. It’s totally safe and has been called a “miracle drug.” Its creators won a Nobel Prize in Medicine for inventing it, and the WHO puts it on a list of ‘must have drugs’ for any country.”

One half of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to William C. Campbell and Satoshi Omura for “for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites,” according to the Nobel Prize website here .

The website says that Campbell Omura discovered that the drug Avermectin, which was chemically modified to a better compound called Ivermectin, “radically lowered” cases of river blindness, lymphatic filariasis and other parasitic diseases in humans.

“Ivermectin was later tested in humans with parasitic infections and effectively killed parasite larvae (microfilaria),” the website said. “Collectively, Ōmura and Campbell’s contributions led to the discovery of a new class of drugs with extraordinary efficacy against parasitic diseases.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises on its website (here) that it received reports of patients who became sick after self-medicating with ivermectin intended for livestock. A Reuters fact-check on why ivermectin intended for animal use should not be used on humans can be seen here .

Ivermectin intended for animals comes in various formulations to treat or prevent parasites. In humans, ivermectin can come in tablets approved at specific doses for treating parasitic worms or in topical forms for headlice and skin conditions, according to the FDA (here).

However, the drug is not yet approved for use in humans for preventing or treating COVID-19 and data thus far does not show efficacy against the virus.

The FDA explains: “Even the levels of ivermectin for approved human uses can interact with other medications, like blood-thinners. You can also overdose on ivermectin, which can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (problems with balance), seizures, coma and even death.”


Missing context. Two scientists did receive a Nobel Prize for their discovery of Ivermectin, but it was intended to treat parasitic infections in humans, not COVID-19.

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