Did Cornell University just confirm ivermectin as the most effective drug against the Omicron variant of COVID-19?
Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!
Claim : Cornell Calls Ivermectin Most Effective Drug vs. Omicron!
Antivaxxers and alternative medicine websites like Mercola are sharing what they claim to be a Cornell University study that names ivermectin as the most effective drug against the Omicron variant.
Here is an example of a WhatsApp message that people are sharing about this Cornell University study.
It’s a long post, so feel free to skip to the next section for the facts.
LATEST STUDY BY CORNELL UNIVERSITY USA FOUND IVERMECTIN MORE EFFECTIVE AGAINST OMICRON THAN OTHER DRUGS, INCLUDING PFIZER’S EXPENSIVE PAXLOVID
Researchers used a computational analysis to look at the Omicron variant, which has demonstrated a lower clinical presentation and lower hospital admission rates.
After having retrieved the complete genome sequence and collecting 30 variants from the database, the researchers analyzed 10 drugs against the virus, including:
Truth : Cornell Did Not Call Ivermectin Most Effective Drug vs. Omicron!
This is yet another example of ivermectin FAKE NEWS, created by antivaxxers and alternative health websites like Mercola.
Let me show you just how they maliciously lied to you about this study…
Fact #1 : Study Was Not Conducted By Cornell University
The study in question is called Insights from a computational analysis of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant: Host-pathogen interaction, pathogenicity and possible therapeutics.
The study was conducted by Parvez et. al. – a team from the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan, and the Shahjalal University of Science & Technology in Bangladesh.
This study on ivermectin and other protease inhibiting drugs has NOTHING to do with Cornell University.
Fact #2 : arXiv Is An Online Library Managed By Cornell University
The study summary in arXiv has a Cornell University logo at the top, which the fake news creator hopes will convince you that the study was done by a Cornell University team.
The truth is – arXiv is an open access repository (library) of scientific papers that is financed and managed by the Cornell University Library. Hence, the Cornell University logo.
That does not mean that the papers submitted to arXiv were conducted or endorsed by Cornell University.
Fact #3 : arXiv Papers Are NOT Peer-Reviewed
The C19Ivermectin website claims that the Parvez et. al. paper has been peer-reviewed. That’s false.
arXiv stores scientific preprints and post-prints (also called e-prints) that any scientist choose to submit.
All papers submitted to arXiv are NOT peer-reviewed, and must NOT be used without proper context.
While papers are typically peer-reviewed before becoming post-print and published (see graphic below), this is not the case for arXiv.
In fact, arXiv specifically warns that their post-prints are NOT peer-reviewed at the top of the page :
Important: e-prints posted on arXiv are not peer-reviewed by arXiv; they should not be relied upon without context to guide clinical practice or health-related behavior and should not be reported in news media as established information without consulting multiple experts in the field.
Fact #4 : Study Used Computer Modelling
The Parvez et. al. study (PDF download) was not conducted in the real world, or even in a laboratory. It was conducted on a computer.
They used computational analysis to analyse the binding potential for ten drugs that target the SARS-CoV-2’s protease protein.
However, this was all done on a computer, and may not necessarily reflect real world results. They must be reviewed (to look for mistakes), and then confirmed in actual lab and real world tests.
As the study authors themselves state, “While these hypotheses hold great value and may provide significant insights into the therapeutic strategies, further research is crucial to authenticate these statements.”
Fact #5 : PAXLOVID Consists Of Two Drugs, Not One
The Parvez et. al. paper looked at individual drugs, and labelled Nirmatrelvir as PAXLOVID.
That is incorrect, as PAXLOVID is a combination of two protease inhibitors :
- two 150 mg tablets of Nirmatrelvir (the new protease inhibitor developed by Pfizer)
- one 100 mg tablet of Ritonavir (an old antiviral approved in 1996)
Drug combinations like this offer a synergistic effect, above and beyond their individual abilities.
Hence, the Parvez et. al. study does not accurately reflect the ability of the PAXLOVID combination of Nirmatrelvir and Ritonavir to simultaneously and synergistically bind to the coronavirus protease enzyme.
And no – you cannot combine or average their results. It doesn’t work that way…
Pro Tip : If you are searching for Ritonavir in the Parvez et. al. study, do note that they wrongly called it Ritonvir.
Fact #6 : In Silico Results Are Least Clinically Important
Computational analysis can help scientists identify potential drug candidates, but the results are not always clinically important.
In this study’s case, it looked at the affinity (ease) at which ten drugs can bind to the protease enzyme of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
While that is a critical feature of protease inhibiting drugs that block the coronavirus’ ability to replicate, it does not tell us other important things like :
- the minimum drug plasma level to inhibit replication
- maximum dose a human being can safely tolerate
- the dose required to achieve the therapeutic plasma level
- drug interactions and adverse effects
- plasma half life and drug metabolism
In the order of clinical importance, such computational (in silico) research is the least significant. That’s why we cannot draw any conclusions from such studies.
Fact #7 : PAXLOVID Proven To Work Against COVID-19
Like many people, I am aghast at the high price of the Pfizer PAXLOVID drug combination. However, low cost is not a requirement for FDA approval.
The US FDA issued PAXLOVID an Emergency Use Authorisation (PDF download) because its Phase 2/3 trial results (PDF download) showed an 88% reduction in the risk of hospitalisation or death from COVID-19.
Even so, the US FDA limited PAXLOVID’s use to only treat early cases of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 :
- Not authorised for severe or critical COVID-19
- Not authorised as a preventive measure (prophylaxis) against COVID-19
- Cannot be used for longer than 5 consecutive days
Fact #8 : Ivermectin Not Proven To Work Clinically Against COVID-19
Ivermectin has shown promise against the COVID-19 virus in laboratory tests since April 2020, but that has not translated into actual clinical benefit.
In other words – scientists can only show that ivermectin kills the coronavirus in laboratory tests, but not in actual human beings.
Here is a meta-analysis of ivermectin RCTs (randomised control trials), with three fraudulent studies removed – Elgazzar, Okomus and Niaee. Results towards the left suggest a clinical benefit for ivermectin.
Taken in totality, the latest meta-analysis show that the clinical effect of ivermectin on COVID-19 patients is NOT SIGNIFICANT enough to warrant its use as a treatment.
While it is ridiculous that Pfizer would charge so much for PAXLOVID, there is fortunately a low-cost way to prevent COVID-19 – vaccines.
Getting vaccinated is a cheap way to avoid getting COVID-19, and avoid the use of expensive drugs like PAXLOVID.
If you want to stick it to Pfizer, get vaccinated against COVID-19!
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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.
He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.
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