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Horowitz: Red-state governors must make ivermectin available over the counter

Op-ed
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Every tool of COVID control has failed. The vaccines were pushed because the lockdowns and masks failed. Now the CDC is threatening to bring back the masks even for vaccinated people because the virus continues to spread despite roughly 80% of seniors being fully vaccinated and 90% having had at least one dose. Why would a government so obsessed with COVID fail to try the one thing it never pursued: known, effective, and cheap early treatments? Well, red-state governments don't have to wait for Fauci and the CDC to follow the science. They should make ivermectin available over the counter in their respective states and overhaul their inpatient and outpatient guidance.

No matter what one feels about the vaccines on the market, it has become quite clear that they offer little resistance against the spread of the new strain of the virus. It's also clear that there are still vaccinated and unvaccinated people who can get seriously ill from this virus, particularly those who are immunocompromised — even as we continue to debate the exact numbers. Further, it is clear that natural infection provides much broader and longer-lasting immunity.

Perforce, if everyone is bound to get this virus anyway in some mutated form, why not make sure that everyone has in their medicine cabinet the least invasive and most effective safe outpatient treatment we have so far to combat this virus? For most people, it takes a number of days — and even weeks — for the virus to turn serious. There is ample warning for anyone who tests positive, particularly those vulnerable to complications, to be treated immediately with ivermectin to prevent the dangerous pulmonary inflammatory response.

Yet outside of a handful of people who actually follow the science, the public is in the dark about the great results of this extremely safe drug. It is simply unacceptable to tell a 70-year-old man with diabetes (who got vaccinated too) that if he gets the virus to just wait until he can't breathe before receiving any treatment, then offer him nothing but a $3,000 dose of the ineffective remdesivir.

Here's the bottom line: According to the European Medicines Agency, which has a much better vaccine surveillance database than our CDC, there were over 12,000 suspected deaths and 1.2 million adverse reactions, half of them serious, just through May 22. Yes, there were hundreds of millions of doses dispensed, but that is still a much higher numerator than we ever tolerate, and we still have no data on long-term effects. Typically, such a product would have been pulled from use and most certainly not forced upon people. On the other hand, ivermectin has been dispensed nearly 4 billion times over 40 years and has a better track record than Tylenol, with just 426 adverse events. The vaccines are not only made available, they are essentially mandated for many people to live a functioning life. Why then is ivermectin not made available to everyone in the world?

Almost all the few rare side effects reported from ivermectin were minor and transient, and it has very few known interactions with other drugs. Just consider the fact that according to Pfizer's own trial data, even putting aside the serious reactions, most of the kids incurred mild reactions that are much rarer with ivermectin. Within a few days after the second injections, 66% of the 12- to 15-year-olds developed fatigue, 65% developed headaches, and 42% developed chills.

The state of play with COVID in the country now is that the South is experiencing the same wave it got last summer (known as the "Hope-Simpson curve"), although because of built-up immunity and likely attenuation of the virus, the deaths will be lower than last year. The media is going to pound away at the southern states for having lower vaccination rates as the culprit, all the while dishonestly ignoring the fact that the South was COVID-free for months during late winter and early spring when it was still percolating through the Northeast and upper Midwest states that had much higher vaccination rates, not to mention impervious mask mandates and capacity restrictions (as of April/May).

The moral of the story is that "the virus is gonna virus" until everyone is exposed to it. Yet Republican governors in those states will continue to play defense and follow the left's failed playbook just like they did with mask mandates. As such, they are lashing out at their people for not getting the vaccine, never mind the fact that senior vaccination rates are high even in those states.

The current Arkansas governor, Asa Hutchinson, lambasted his constituents for not vaccinating at a high enough rate. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the leading contender to replace him next year, wrote an op-ed urging everyone to get the "Trump vaccine." She asserted categorically that "the benefits of getting vaccinated extend beyond protection from covid," a statement that is categorically false for younger people and still unknown even for older people based on the waning efficacy and the still unknown long-term side effects.

She also stated, "I believe the Trump vaccine will help keep our state open for business and our economy growing." That implies that vaccines are the only way to keep the state open. Aside from tacitly acceding to the left's outrageous point that lockdowns are legitimate under any circumstance, she is creating a false dichotomy. There is another option. As she warns about hospitals filling up, she misses the point that almost all these people can be treated immediately, outpatient, without filling up the hospitals. And unlike other treatments that have been used throughout the pandemic, such as Eli Lilly's monoclonal antibodies, ivermectin is even better because it is so cheap and non-invasive.

Republican-controlled legislatures, particularly in those states experiencing the Hope-Simpson curve, need to immediately convene and make drugs like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine available over the counter. We sell Tylenol over the counter despite so many people committing suicide by overdosing on it. There are an estimated 78,000 emergency department visits every year because of overdoses of acetaminophen-containing products, leading to as many as 980 deaths in a year. Thus, ivermectin is likely safer.

If they are not bold enough to do this, they should at least have their respective departments of health recommend it for treatment and change the protocol of inpatient treatment to more effective things than the failed remdesivir. It is simply unacceptable that 17 months into this pandemic, we have turned over every rock in search for a solution — at a painful cost — yet have refused to make cheap and effective early treatments available to the public. Rather than just promoting vaccines that increasingly wane in efficacy and place needless risk on too many people, President Trump should encourage the red states to use ivermectin and adopt an alternative treatment protocol.

Where I live in Baltimore, there are open-air drug markets all over the streets and people know they can access and even sell this poison with impunity. This is true in almost every major city these days. Yet someone afraid of complications from COVID-19 cannot access a single treatment that has proven effective against this virus unless they have a rare, brave, and broad-thinking doctor on their side.

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