Conservatives harass researcher for investigating whether 'horse paste' drug really cures COVID-19
Horses in stable (Shutterstock)

On Tuesday, Mother Jones relayed the story of David Boulware, a medical researcher who found himself a target for abuse from right-wing conspiracy theorists — only because he tried to study whether an anti-parasitic drug is actually able to treat COVID-19.

"When David Boulware read in 2020 that a cheap and plentiful drug called ivermectin had shown some promise in treating COVID-19, he was eager to study it," reported Kiera Butler. "In May, Boulware's team put the word out about the study, aiming to recruit 1,100 volunteers. But then something strange happened: He began receiving hostile emails and messages on Twitter from people who fervently believed that ivermectin was a miracle cure for COVID-19 and that administering a placebo to some trial participants was therefore unethical."

One person reportedly wrote an email to Boulware saying, "Are you a reembodied NAZI Josef Mengele? WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? Eliminate your plan to abuse people as needless controls. You have a duty of care." Boulware was taken aback, given that he had run similar trials on possible treatments for illnesses like HIV and tuberculosis without anyone attacking his ethics.

Ivermectin, much like the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine before it, showed promise as a therapeutic drug for COVID-19 in very preliminary research. But better controlled clinical trials have found no evidence of its effectiveness.

Some conservatives have grow increasingly convinced that there is a conspiracy to hide its effectiveness in favor of vaccines. The result is an epidemic of people taking ivermectin formulations for livestock from farmer supply centers; in Mississippi, 70 percent of poison control calls in recent weeks come from people consuming horse and cow medication.

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