Get set to soon hear a lot more about an old drug

The drug ivermectin has been round for decades as a widely-used treatment for parasites such as head lice and as a drug to treat river blindness, a common ailment in parts of Africa.

But lately a new use of ivermectin has been widely proposed on multiple social media sites: Namely, as a treatment for COVID-19.

The problem is, of course, that this use for ivermectin has never been confirmed in a randomized, placebo-controlled study, although that study is getting together very soon.

Before the results of that study are out, however, which will take a few months at least, you can bet that there will be many much less valuable or reliable studies about ivermectin that are published because the world is just so desperate to find some new useful treatment for COVID.

When you run across a study like that, however, and you are tempted to believe it and see if you can purchase ivermectin for your cat (and by extension yourself) just repeat this mantra and you will quickly be much more hesitant: Hydroxychloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, hydroxychloroquine.

I hope ivermectin is a useful drug for COVID.

But as ever, let the science tell you what is likely to be true and what is simple conjecture.