Bolsonaro touts alleged efficacy of ivermectin against Covid-19

Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Isac Nóbrega/PR

In a social media post this afternoon, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro argued in favor of the use of antiparasitic medication ivermectin to treat Covid-19, highlighting the World Health Organization’s (WHO) efforts to distribute the drug in Africa.

Mr. Bolsonaro said that Angola has seen a low Covid-19 mortality rate and “one of the possible causes” would be the use of ivermectin, distributed by the WHO to treat onchocerciasis — commonly known as “river blindness” — since 1995.

Without mentioning the source, the president said that a “reputable international scientific journal attests that the antiviral medication nitazoxanide [the principal active ingredient of ivermectin] is able to reduce the viral load in patients infected by the coronavirus.”

The social media post comes as Mr. Bolsonaro returns from a two-week holiday in the coastal São Paulo city of Guarujá, during which he provoked large public gatherings while not wearing a face mask. Yesterday, he once again insisted on his anti-vaccine message, stressing that Covid-19 vaccination will not be mandatory and instead stressing the importance of early treatment. 

Mr. Bolsonaro remains one of the biggest advocates for the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus, despite a lack of scientific evidence proving its efficacy against the disease.

On December 17, Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled that while no individual will be forced to take a coronavirus vaccine, immunization may be used as a requirement for entry in public and private places, or even for travel. This is currently the case with other vaccines, such as the requirements for yellow fever and malaria jabs in several countries around the world. 

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