Wisconsin doctors are among those fed up with the reckless, destructive antics of Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), who has recently promoted ivermectin — which is an anti-parasitic drug often used in livestock — as a supposedly promising lead in the fight against COVID-19. Promotion of the drug has become popular in certain right-wing circles — and calls to poison control centers related to ivermectin have risen dramatically, as those inclined towards conspiratorial thinking have tried the medication. At a virtual August 30 meeting, physicians associated with an organization known as the Committee to Protect Health Care lodged a request for Johnson to both stop promoting ivermectin as though it works against COVID-19 and stop undercutting trust in the vaccines that have been developed against COVID-19.
At present, the U.S. is struggling through a wave of what’s known as the delta variant of COVID-19, which has driven case, hospitalization, and death numbers up to dramatic levels — and yet, the grim realities of these circumstances on the ground have not stopped prominent Republicans like Johnson from flippantly promoting so-called fixes for COVID-19 like ivermectin. Dr. Bob Freedland, MD, who serves as the Wisconsin State Lead for the Committee to Protect Health Care, commented as follows:
‘As not just a physician but also a resident of Wisconsin, it’s shocking and appalling that any grown person, let alone our elected senator, would promote Ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19… To be quite clear, Ivermectin is a drug used to deworm livestock, and researchers haven’t found it to have the benefits against COVID-19 that some like Johnson try to claim it has. Senator Ron Johnson, if you really want to save lives from COVID-19, please stop horsing around and start promoting measures that actually work, like masks and vaccines.’
Troublingly, Johnson is not the only elected Republican member of Congress who has recently opted to support at least the possibility of ivermectin being used against COVID-19. Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Rep. Louie Gohmert (Texas) have done something similar, despite the relative lack of supporting evidence and the fact that (among other related uses) it’s a horse dewormer.
Johnson’s public promotion of ivermectin has included a tweet from August in which he linked to a piece by Dr. Pierre Kory advocating for the usage of the anti-parasitic drug against COVID-19. Wisconsin doctor Dr. Rebecca Beach commented as follows:
‘It shames me to see our senator pushing false cures and conspiracy theories when we know how to prevent this disease… Physicians in Wisconsin and across the country have been working overtime for the past year and a half to treat COVID and to try to figure out how to best deal with it when someone does fall ill, including using ventilators when they are needed to save lives — when they sometimes are the only thing that can save a life. Sen. Johnson, who is not a doctor, is trying to undermine this work, and I find that frustrating beyond belief. Of course, no doctor wants a patient to have to be put on a ventilator, but unlike Senator Johnson, we want to do what has to be done to save lives, not just save our political bases.’
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