Joe Rogan, host of one of the world’s most popular podcasts, says he has caught COVID-19 and is treating the illness with ivermectin, the unproven livestock deworming drug touted by anti-vaccine pushers.
Speaking in an Instagram video on Wednesday, Rogan explains that he got back from “the road” on Saturday feeling “very weary,” “run-down,” sweaty, and feverish. The following morning he tested positive for COVID-19.
“We immediately threw the kitchen sink at it," he said. "Monoclonal antibodies, ivermectin, Z-Pak, prednisone — everything!"
After a ropey few days, he claimed to be feeling “great” by Wednesday.
The video — which is tagged with an Instagram misinformation warning saying "some unapproved COVID-19 treatments may cause serious harm” — was viewed over 4 million times in just 12 hours.
Needless to say, going to a comedian with no medical training for medical tips is a bad idea. Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic medication commonly used to rid humans, horses, and cattle of worms. Ivermectin was sniffed out as a potential COVID-19 treatment based on experiments in a petri dish and animals. However, further research has failed to show the drug has any real benefits for people with COVID-19. In fact, one of the more influential meta-analyses into the effects of ivermectin on SARS-CoV-2 was retracted due to fraudulent data that changed the results and “ethical concerns.”
The FDA has told the public to steer clear of the unproven drug, warning “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y'all. Stop it.” While some legitimate trials are investigating the drug, the jury is out so far and it's not approved or authorized as a COVID-19 treatment. The World Health Organization has also warned: “The current evidence on the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 patients is inconclusive.”
If that’s not enough to put you off, the cattle dewormer has been linked to some rather unpleasant side effects. The FDA has received multiple reports of people who have required medical support and been hospitalized after self-medicating with ivermectin intended for horses. As per the FDA, common side-effects of the drug include “nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (problems with balance), seizures, coma, and even death”. Some pro-ivermectin types have even reported pooping out bits of intestinal lining, wrongly thinking it was worms, after taking too much of the drug.
According to the CDC, calls to poison centers relating to human ingestion of ivermectin increased five-fold from usual levels in July 2021.
Despite these rather unglamorous side effects, ivermectin has gained a reputation as some kind of a wonder drug by some, especially people who are skeptical of taking the COVID-19 vaccine. It's very reminiscent of the hype surrounding hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID last year, and the continued touting of it as a treatment long after it had been shown to have little to no effect on COVID by those who were skeptical of vaccines.
Doctors and public health officials are dismayed at people who say they fear the COVID vaccines — which are all proven to work — turning up in hospitals with COVID-19 because they are willingly taking drugs that have not been proven effective against the coronavirus.
Even Joe Rogan says you shouldn’t listen to Joe Rogan’s medical advice. The UFC commentator previously landed himself in hot water after telling his millions of listeners: “If you’re like 21 years old and you say to me, ‘Should I get vaccinated?’ I’ll go, no.”
Following the backlash from his comments, and a stern telling-off from Dr Anthony Fauci, he clarified that he’s not against taking the vaccine and shouldn’t be considered a “respected source of information.”
“When I say something stupid, I’m not thinking about what I’m going to say before I say it,” he said. Later, he added, “I’m not a doctor, I’m a fucking moron, and I’m a cage-fighting commentator who’s a dirty stand-up comedian... I’m not a respected source of information, even for me.”