Once again the HBO TV show Real Time with Bill Maher was missing some real medical experts and real science. On the October 1 episode of the show, Bill Maher was talking about ivermectin with Katherine Mangu-Ward, who is not a medical doctor, scientist, or public health expert but the Editor-in-Chief of Reason, which described itself as “the leading libertarian magazine and video website.”
Maher claimed to Mangu-Ward that “one of the problems is, as you have written so eloquently about, is that we have politicized medications now. I mean ivermectin, ivermectin. It’s a drug. It’s not a politician. It should not have any reputation, except does it work or not.”
Here’s a video of that exchange:
OK, let’s get this straight. Maher, who is a political commentator, is talking about Covid-19 treatments with Mangu-Ward, who is an Editor-in-Chief of a magazine that has a self-declared political leaning, and complaining that medications have been “politicized.” Does Maher see the irony in this? Neither Maher nor Mangu-Ward is a scientist, medical doctor, or public health expert. They did not include any such experts in the conversation. Yet, Maher is claiming that others are politicizing medications?
Maher continued by saying, “On the left, it was like oh, no, you can’t even mention it.” OK, first of all, it’s not just “the left,” whatever that may be, that’s saying don’t take ivermectin to treat Covid-19. As I have covered for Forbes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Covid-19 treatment guidelines, and many other scientists and medical doctors point to the lack of real evidence that ivermectin works against ivermectin. And these scientists have been focusing on the facts and not their partisan affiliations, which incidentally span the spectrum. Plenty of scientists are moderate, centrist, or whatever else falls outside of this artificially defined and simplistic right versus left paradigm. Fighting against misinformation shouldn’t automatically qualify you as “the left” or any other political leaning, unless you somehow erroneous believe that all Republicans are anti-science or believe ivermectin is a legitimate treatment for Covid-19.
Secondly, how many people are actually saying, “you can’t even mention it.” Heck the fact that journalists keep writing about false claims about ivermectin is “mentioning it.” If an actual unified suppression campaign were going on, you wouldn’t see ivermectin mentioned so darn often. No one said that ivermectin is like Fight Club.
Maher’s next line was “The comedians on the left would only talk about the fact that it was used to deworm horses leaving out that it has been prescribed millions of times for humans.” Umm, just because ivermectin has been prescribed, doesn’t mean that it’s appropriate as a Covid-19 treatment. Viagra, for example, has been prescribed many, many times. Yet, it’s not a right treatment for Covid-19. Having an erection is not going to make the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) go, “OK, we’re impressed. We’ll leave your body alone.”
Doctors have prescribed ivermectin for humans to treat parasitic worm diseases like intestinal strongyloidiasis and onchocerciasis. They’ve also prescribed topical versions of ivermectin to treat external parasites like head lice and skin conditions such as rosacea, as the FDA described. The SARS-CoV-2 is a virus and not a parasitic worm or head lice. Mixing up the two would be like forming an board of directors for a company and having only alpacas serve.
“Now, there was a study done, a large patient study in Brazil said that Ivermectin had no effect whatsoever,” Maher added. “But, do you know what? There’s always multiple studies. I don’t know.” The panel of external experts that have maintained the NIH Covid-19 Treatment Guidelines didn’t just review one study. They have reviewed all the studies available and still have concluded that “There is insufficient evidence for the COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel (the Panel) to recommend either for or against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of Covid-19. Results from adequately powered, well-designed, and well-conducted clinical trials are needed to provide more specific, evidence-based guidance on the role of ivermectin in the treatment of Covid-19.
This certainly wasn’t the first time that Maher has made statements about the Covid-19 coronavirus without including real medical experts and scientists on the show. For example, earlier this year, I covered for Forbes how Maher asserted that medical doctors were blowing the pandemic out of proportion. Yes, he said that about a pandemic that has already killed at least 700,000 Americans.
Maher concluded his ivermectin rant on the October 1 show by arguing that, “Doctors are also wrong a lot about [expletive].”
So what is Maher saying? Trust politicians, political commentators, the editor-in-chief of a political publication, or a talk show host instead of real medical doctors and scientists? You can’t just tell people, “try anything you’d like and see what happens.” That would be chaos. That would be similar to saying, “let’s get rid of menus at restaurants, all laws and regulations, standard for clothes and any other products, or requirements for jobs.” Heck, why not let anyone just host a TV show and talk about things without any real relevant qualifications or facts to back what they are saying? OK, that may last thing may be happening already.