Why didn't the 'Therapeutics Taskforce' recommend Ivermectin for further study?
The evidence of an effect was crystal clear
It’s a valid question which is deserving of a full answer. We don’t have to dig too deep to justify the question, but since this is The Digger…
Taken at its own word, Andrew Hill’s pre-print paper concluded ‘‘…there was a 75% reduction in mortality..with favourable clinical recovery and reduced hospitalisation” when using Ivermectin. What was needed was ‘confirmation’ of this effect in larger clinical trials.
A subsequent analysis involving Professor Andrew Owen on behalf of the World Health Organisation also showed Ivermectin had an effect on mortality outcomes. They considered the signal ‘low certainty’, but the signal stubbornly remained. It was March 2021.
This data gave very strong reasons to investigate Ivermectin as a COVID therapeutic. All of the meta-analysis papers, covering at least 27 controlled studies, had come back with a statistically significant signal of benefit.
The paper closest to the World Health Organisation was Andrew Hill’s. It’s the paper we have very strong reason to believe was altered by a lobby. Check out my full series on Ivermectin for a thorough exploration of that.
One alteration, definitely inserted into the paper between the 14th and 19th of January, said “further refined analysis, including direct data examination are warranted”. There was a “clear need”, the paper concluded, “for additional, higher-quality and larger-scale clinical trials, warranted to investigate the use of ivermectin further”. So a consensus was building, even the ‘additional unattributed voices’ wanted to investigate Ivermectin further!
At the exact moment the Hill paper demanded further trials on Ivermectin, the UK COVID-19 Therapeutics and Antivirals Taskforce was looking for repurposed drug candidates to put into trials. We’ll call it CTAP. What’s more, as was pointed out to me by a reader, Professor Andrew Owen sat on the CTAP’s ‘Advisory Panel’. Professor Andrew Owen’s name appeared in the metadata of the Andrew Hill paper, so he must have been aware of the ‘clear need’ for larger-scale medical trials.
CTAP’s main task was to make recommendations on which drugs to investigate as COVID therapeutics. They were to ‘ensure research continues at pace’, because we were in an emergency. The drugs recommended by CTAP would be funnelled into a network of ready to go trials. The aim was to repurpose those drugs ‘as soon as possible.’
Wasn’t this a slam dunk?!
Ivermectin was the perfect candidate for a CTAP recommendation, as three meta-analyses showed a 75% reduction in deaths, the WHO showed ‘a benefit with ivermectin’. One paper, which at least one CTAP member knew about, literally demanded Ivermectin be studied in further clinical trials. Ivermectin was screaming to be looked at.
In total, 27 drugs were recommended for investigation by CTAP, but Ivermectin was not one of them. Why?
On the 27th of January, a question was even asked in parliament about this, Jo Churchill MP responded, “The Therapeutics Taskforce [CTAP] is aware that several more studies into ivermectin are set to conclude in the next few months and will continue to monitor these ongoing trials to assess the evidence available on whether ivermectin can prevent and/or reduce the severity of COVID-19.”
But this was not CTAP’s role, it was to recommend therapeutics for further research. It was responsible for “the initial identification of potential therapeutics”. At that exact moment, there was credible evidence we could reduce death by 75% if Ivermectin was rolled out. Fast-paced randomized trials may have confirmed this beyond doubt.
Even if we take Jo Churchill’s response at face value, over “the next few months”, at least 14 studies concluded on Ivermectin and all of them were positive. There was a group of research doctors in the UK who believed the data we already had was enough to roll the drug out nationally, wasn’t it at least enough for a recommendation to trial Ivermectin “as part of an advanced programme of clinical trials”? These were the stated aims of CTAP after all…
Andrew Owen sat on the antiviral and prophylaxis subgroups for CTAP. He himself prepared the evidence for the World Health Organisation that showed a ‘low-certainty’ effect of benefit to Ivermectin. He was almost certainly aware of the Andrew Hill study which showed a 75% reduction in mortality. He had published a paper showing positive outcomes for Ivermectin when used with Remdesivir. Why was he not able to get a recommendation to investigate Ivermectin further? What was going on inside CTAP at that time to have missed Ivermectin?
CTAP had been making recommendations on COVID therapeutics since at least September 2020, even aspirin got a look. It was recommended to be included in the RECOVERY trial in November 2020. There were no studies cited to justify asprin’s recommendation, and yet Ivermectin had at least sixteen randomized control trials showing a benefit. Even with all that data supporting its efficacy, Ivermectin was never recommended. How is that possible?
One thing is certain, there were between four and six months before the media attacks on Ivermectin started, attacks I’ll be reporting on in the coming weeks. But in examining what happened in the first half of 2021, we have to look at what was understood then. There were months of opportunity to have ‘ensured research continues at pace’, but no recommendation from CTAP ever came for Ivermectin.
Anticipating my critics
They’ll likely tell me that Ivermectin was announced to be a part of the Principle Trial. The news was welcomed by Andrew Hill, who tweeted about it on January 23rd 2021.
It’s worth pointing out, this happened before Sir Graham Brady asked Jo Churchill MP what the Department for Health made of the data on Ivermectin. Remember, CTAP’s entire role in this was to make recommendations, they even described their role as ‘horizon scanning’ for potential treatments. They did not make the recommendation for Ivermectin to go into the Principle trial.
What’s more, the Principle trial has been a disaster for Ivermectin. The Ivermectin study was announced in January 2021, and by December 2021 it was ‘paused’ citing ‘supply issues’. Well over a year later it has produced no results on Ivermectin. How’s that for ‘ensuring research happens at pace’?
For context, the incredible Dr Mohiuddin and his team in Bangladesh, with a budget of almost nothing, had a randomized control trial of 116 patients published in July of 2020. All the money and resources of the Principle trial and it produced nothing. One wonders if the reason we are told to ‘wait for large industry trials’ is so they can be slowed to a halt whilst novel interventions race through the regulatory process. But what do I know?
Nonetheless, Ivermectin’s inclusion in the ‘no results’ Principle trial doesn’t deflect from CTAP’s failure to make a recommendation. As a matter of fact, the government were being pressured by their own MPs to properly take a look.
We didn’t get a proper look. So what happened? It’s a genuine question, and perhaps there is a genuine answer. Is David Davis MP satisfied with the government’s ‘look’ at Ivermectin?
Is this the first you’re reading about Ivermectin?
Check out my full series, it’s an interesting story that I strongly suggest you read in order.
Ivermectin Part 4: A non-stop controversy [coming soon]
The Digger is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Drugs CTAP recommended
Complement (C5) inhibitors
Pegylated interferon beta
Sodium-glucose co-transporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors
Allogeneic SARS-CoV-2 virus specific T-lymphocytes