2022 3M Truth in Science Award, Large Newsroom finalist

The Story of a Covid Wonder Drug

About the Project

Welcome to the wild and wooly world of ivermectin.

Early in the pandemic, the science around this drug looked promising. There were reports that it could have antiviral properties, and hints that people who took it just might stave off severe Covid-19. And if ivermectin worked, it could be a game changer: The drug is cheap, safe and widely available.

But then the evidence started to look a little … shaky. And accusations of fraud started flying. Before long, it seemed clear to many scientists that ivermectin was far from a wonder drug.

That didn’t knock ivermectin off its tracks, however. Superstar podcaster Joe Rogan swore by it, as did some of the doctors he invited on to his show. There were reports of people being so desperate for ivermectin that they took formulations meant for livestock — and landed in the hospital. And the drug has now morphed into a symbol of a pandemic culture war, where it’s the establishment vs. the “do your own research” internet warriors. And some ivermectin supporters think we’re all being duped by a conspiracy to keep cheap drugs out of the public’s hands.

In this podcast episode, Science Vs goes through this story — and the scientific evidence — to try to figure out how we got here. And we talk to one doctor who’s been at the center of this to try to understand: with all the anti-ivermectin evidence piling up, why does he still believe?