Vaccine skeptics and anti-maskers are instead sucking down horse paste — the latest snake-oil "miracle cure" — once they become sick with COVID-19, resulting in an increase in calls to poison control centers, the Daily Beast reported Friday.
The horse paste contains ivermectin, which is normally used to treat parasites in humans and livestock but is now being prescribed by quack doctors and promoted in online forums as the latest version of the Trumpian drug hydroxychloroquine.
One of the groups behind the ivermectin craze is America's Frontline Doctors, the Trump-promoted Texas group that includes accused Capitol insurrectionist Dr. Simone Gold and "alien DNA" specialist Dr. Stella Immanuel.
"Devotees have besieged pharmacists with prescriptions from shady online prescribers, forcing pharmacies to crack down and treat the antiparasitic drugs like opioids," the Daily Beast reports. "As human-approved ivermectin prescriptions have been harder to come by, enthusiasts have taken to raiding rural tractor supply stores in search of ivermectin horse paste (packed with 'apple flavor!') and weighed the benefits of taking ivermectin 'sheep drench' and a noromectin 'injection for swine and cattle.'"
As far as its efficacy in treating COVID-19, invermectin remains unproven. Studies touted in support of the drug were later withdrawn or heavily criticized due to errors, leading experts to conclude that further randomized trials are needed. The FDA, meanwhile, has cautioned people against taking drugs intended for large animals because they are highly concentrated.
A Texas-based poison control specialist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of repercussions, told the Daily Beast that while there isn't an epidemic of ivermectin overdoses, there has been a noticeable increase in calls.
"The irony is, in a severe ivermectin overdose patients will end up needing to be intubated to protect their airway, meanwhile, a lot of them are taking the ivermectin to allegedly treat their COVID… to avoid ultimately being intubated and placed on a ventilator," the poison control specialist said.