Update (9/17/21): YouTube removed two videos mentioned in this report for “violating YouTube's Community Guidelines.” YouTube also terminated the account Self Sufficient Momma, including the video mentioned here.
Videos promoting the anti-parasitic medication ivermectin as a prophylactic and therapeutic treatment for COVID-19 are all over YouTube, despite the platform’s ban on content that recommends the drug as a coronavirus prophylactic or treatment.
Ivermectin is typically used to treat intestinal conditions in both humans and large animals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization, and ivermectin manufacturer Merck have all warned against using the drug to treat COVID-19. Notably, the CDC has reported, “Adverse effects associated with ivermectin misuse and overdose are increasing, as shown by a rise in calls to poison control centers reporting overdoses and more people experiencing adverse effects.”
YouTube’s COVID-19 medical misinformation policy prohibits content that recommends the use of ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19, but the company has consistently failed to enforce it. Media Matters identified numerous videos on the platform -- which have together accumulated over 1.6 million views -- that claim the drug is “highly effective at treating” the coronavirus. A majority of the identified videos come from Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), a nonprofit that advocates for the use of the drug to treat and prevent coronavirus infections.
Notably, YouTube has previously enforced its policy banning content that promotes ivermectin. In June, the platform removed a video of Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) promoting ivermectin and banned him from uploading videos to the platform for a week.
YouTube’s search engine also appears to be directing users toward content that promotes ivermectin as a coronavirus treatment. When Media Matters searched for the term “iverm” using incognito mode on Google Chrome, the platform’s auto-complete function suggested the searches “ivermectin dosage,” “ivermectin works for covid 19 latest studies,” “ivermectin dose in covid 19 loan,” and “ivermectin covid treatment sky news.”
YouTube is full of videos that recommend ivermectin as a COVID-19 prophylactic or treatment
- In a video posted to YouTube on June 27, podcasters Bret Weinstein and Lex Fridman discussed ivermectin as a coronavirus treatment, with Weinstein claiming the drug “is highly effective at treating people with the disease” and could “drive SARS-CoV-2 to extinction if we wished to deploy it.” The video has over 565,000 views.
- In a video uploaded to the YouTube channel The Doctors on February 8, Dr. Pierre Kory defended and promoted ivermectin. He claimed that the anti-parasitic drug is “a really effective medication” for treating COVID-19 and that “we now have just overwhelming mountains of data showing how it works.” The video has over 16,000 views.
- In another video posted by The Doctors on February 14, Kory debated critical care specialist Dr. Ebony Hilton about the use of ivermectin. Kory claimed that the drug “prevents transmission,” saying, “If you have a household member who falls ill -- from numerous trials -- if you put the household on ivermectin, very few actually contract the disease.” He also promoted the drug as a COVID-19 treatment, asserting, “We have a daily dose of ivermectin once a day for five days, and we're seeing remarkable recoveries.” The video has over 92,000 views.
- On March 19, FLCCC uploaded a video titled “Global Medical & Scientific Experts Call Upon World Governments to Act Now to Save Lives.” In the video, several scientists and physicians recommend ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment, with Dr. Mobeen Syed saying, “The COVID-19 pandemic is over -- well, at least for the countries that have adopted the broad distribution and use of ivermectin for the prevention and early management of COVID-19.” The video has over 110,000 views.
- In a March 30 FLCCC video, Dr. Lionel Lee discussed prescribing ivermectin to a fellow member of his church. Lee claimed: “She could barely get out of bed that afternoon. She took the medicine. By evening she was cooking food in her house. She ended up surviving and she’s back home now with her family. Had she not gotten the ivermectin, I don't think she’d be here today.” The video has over 103,000 views.
- On April 19, FLCCC uploaded another video promoting the drug as a COVID-19 cure. In the video, professor Colleen Aldous of South Africa’s University of KwaZulu-Natal asserted that “ivermectin has efficacy in shortening the duration of disease, shortening the time that there are symptoms, and in reducing mortality.” The video has over 498,000 views.
- In an August 21 video from FLCCC, Patti Koopmans detailed her experience contracting COVID-19 and treating it with ivermectin. Koopmans claimed that taking the drug “was like a miracle” adding, “The ivermectin kicked it out, it just kicked it out of my system.” The video has over 142,000 views.
- In another FLCCC video posted on May 21, author Michael Capuzzo urged journalists to report on ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment. Capuzzo asserted, “There are hundreds of thousands of people -- actually millions of people around the world from Uttar Pradesh in India to Peru to Brazil who are living and not dying because of this drug.” The video has over 26,000 views.
- In a video uploaded to the channel Self Sufficient Momma on April 25, a person shows how to take “ivermectin horse paste for the use of COVID.” In the video, the person cites FLCCC’s treatment and prevention protocol and demonstrates how they ingest ivermectin horse paste, which is “not safe or approved for human use,” according to the manufacturer. The video has over 143,000 views.