Russell Brand admits falsely claiming that ivermectin is a Covid-19 treatment

12 September 2022
What was claimed

The National Institute of Health added ivermectin to the list of Covid treatments.

Our verdict

This is not true. There is an ivermectin section on the NIH website, but it explains that ivermectin cannot and should not be used to treat Covid-19.

Yesterday the National Institute of Health added ivermectin to the list of Covid treatments.

The comedian Russell Brand has claimed that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US has listed the drug ivermectin as a treatment for Covid-19.

He said this in a video viewed more than a million times, which has been deleted from Facebook, but is still available on YouTube and TikTok. In the YouTube video he also adds: “Ivermectin is effective [against Covid]”.

Both these statements are false, and Mr Brand has since recorded a new video to admit he was wrong.

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What the NIH said

There is a section about ivermectin on the NIH’s Covid Treatment Guidelines website, which Mr Brand highlighted in his video.

However, if you follow the link to this section, it leads to a page that says: “Ivermectin is not approved by the [Food and Drug Administration] for the treatment of any viral infection.”

Further down the page, it says: “The Panel recommends against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of Covid-19, except in clinical trials… The Panel’s recommendation is primarily informed by recently published randomized controlled trials. The primary outcomes of these trials showed that the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19 had no clinical benefit.”

It is also not true that the ivermectin section had been added to the NIH website “yesterday”, as Mr Brand claimed in the YouTube video dated 6 September. The section has appeared on the NIH site since at least June 2021.

The false claim that the NIH had listed ivermectin as a Covid treatment has been widely circulated online since at least 1 September, and has been covered by other fact checkers.

We have written several fact checks about ivermectin, which has been a common topic of misinformation during the Covid pandemic. Ivermectin is not listed as a Covid treatment by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK. NICE guidelines, published in July say: “Do not use ivermectin to treat COVID-19 except as part of an ongoing clinical trial.” The European Medicines Agency also advised against using it for Covid in a statement last year.

We approached Mr Brand for comment before he posted the video apologising for his mistake. In the video he says: “I made a mistake. I’m so sorry. I’m not perfect. I misread a website.”

At the time of publication, the original TikTok and YouTube videos had not been corrected. YouTube’s Covid-19 medical misinformation policy says that users must not post “claims that Ivermectin is an effective treatment for COVID-19” on its site.

We took a stand for good information.

After we published this fact check, we contacted Russell Brand to ask him to correct the original videos.

He did not respond to us.

YouTube has subsequently removed the original video for violating its Community Guidelines.

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