Large Ivermectin Meta-Analysis Redacted After Fraudulent Data Discovered

Sorry folks, it just doesn't work. Image Credit: Novikov Aleksey/Shutterstock.com

Just yesterday, IFLScience reported on an FDA announcement urging people to stop taking livestock drugs to treat COVID-19. Ivermectin, touted as a wonder drug by many despite having zero verifiable data to support such claims, has reached headlines across the internet as people take increasingly large quantities to the point of serious danger. 

To substantiate their claims, many cited a large meta-analysis into the effects of Ivermectin on SARS-CoV-2, which was published on July 6. Now, this study has been redacted at the request of the authors after one of the studies included in the analysis was shown to contain fraudulent data, entirely changing the results of the meta-analysis. The authors now state that although they will release a revised version, the data adjusted with the removal of the fraudulent preprint suggests Ivermectin has no survival benefit for COVID-19 infection in humans.  

The preprint in question was a widely-cited, supposedly randomized control trial on Ivermectin use in hospitalized patients. After being assigned it while studying for his masters, medical student Jack Lawrence discovered that a substantial quantity of the introduction section was directly plagiarized from Ivermectin press releases and similar articles, which the author then ran through a thesaurus to change. As the Guardian points out in an interview with Lawrence, this led to some somewhat hilarious mishaps. 

“Humorously, this led to them changing ‘severe acute respiratory syndrome’ to ‘extreme intense respiratory syndrome’ on one occasion,” Lawrence said. 

Concerns were then raised about the data, which had a large number of direct errors. Raw data did not match those formatted for figures, with the number of deaths in the Ivermectin treatment group either intentionally or mistakenly downplayed by a huge 50 percent. Out of the entire cohort, 79 patients had medical records that were obvious clones of others, with a few fields changed to not make it appear obvious. It is hard to believe this was done unintentionally. 

After Lawrence contacted a squad of data scientists and disease specialists, the overwhelming evidence against the paper led to it being withdrawn for "ethical concerns". 

With one paper redacted and another currently revising their findings into showing no significant effect of Ivermectin, we can naively hope that this will be the end of the Ivermectin saga, at least until valid data suggests otherwise. This is one of the largest and most-cited pro-Ivermectin studies out there and was largely used in the misinformation campaigns despite other studies finding contradicting results. Even Merck, the manufacturers of Ivermectin and those with most to gain from its sale, have stated there is absolutely no scientific basis for its use against COVID-19.  

 
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