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Reflections on ivermectin, politics and science

Note that views expressed in Blog articles are the writers’ personal views and not necessarily those of BiRD

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WHO can you trust on Ivermectin?

Why are leading western and international public health agencies such as WHO, FDA, MHRA not recommending an effective, low-cost safe and widely available medication like ivermectin?

Is this really all about the quality of the evidence?

If it is good enough for 20+ lower-income countries who do distribute it and benefit greatly from lower covid rates, what is the issue for these bodies funded by wealthier nations and individuals?

One of the most puzzling phenomena during the pandemic we have had to contend with is the constant stream of negative media coverage attempting to discredit repurposed early treatments, in particular Ivermectin. And to confuse us even further, the media’s messages are often based on misleading information produced by high profile public health agencies, not least the World Health Organisation.  

We will be examining the WHO in this blog and then take a closer look at other agencies in future posts.

What should WHO do?

One important public health agency that has had a marked influence upon the course of the pandemic response, including whether repurposed medicines have a role to play in the prevention and treatment of Covid-19, is the World Health Organisation. “Founded in 1948, WHO is the United Nations agency that connects nations, partners and people to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable – so everyone, everywhere can attain the highest level of health.”[1]  But we feel that the WHO is simply not living up to these noble intentions.

WHO is the victim or the perpetrator?

During his presentation “The WHO’s Denial of Ivermectin: Big Science, Disinformation and their Impacts on Human Rights”, Dr Pierre Kory of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) suggested that the WHO is a “victim” of certain disinformation tactics that were outlined in a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists.[2] The report called “The Disinformation Playbook – How Business Interests Deceive, Misinform, and Buy Influence at the Expense of Public Health and Safety”[3] lists 5 tactics used by a minority of corporations to manipulate and delay government action on matters that would adversely affect their income and profit. According to Dr Kory, all 5 tactics apply to what has been happening regarding ivermectin. Let’s have a quick glance at those tactics. 

5 Rules of the Disinformation Playbook

  1. The Fake: Conduct counterfeit science and try to pass it off as legitimate research.
  2. The Blitz: Harass scientists who speak out with results or views inconvenient for industry, the goal being: to silence scientists and stifle independent science.
  3. The Diversion: Manufacture uncertainty about science where little or none exists.
  4. The Screen: Buy credibility through alliances with academia or professional societies.
  5. The Fix: Manipulate government officials or processes to inappropriately influence policy.

For more information, please visit the website: https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/disinformation-playbook

According to Dr Kory’s assessment, the “golden era” of the WHO, which was characterised by remarkable public health achievements, was largely driven by a budget the WHO had full control over.

In those days there were no competing influences. 

He WHO pays the piper

However, particularly over the last 20 years there has been a radical change in the funding sources of the WHO. These days, 70 per cent of funding is provided by external funders, many of whom have specific interests, notably corporate and non-profit companies allied with pharmaceutical businesses. The consequence of this is that funders “influence their  own agenda in promoting the use of pharmaceutical products, especially vaccines” as well as “dictate national clinical research, tech-bio interventions and even news and media management”.[4] According to Dr Kory, “the WHO is now widely perceived as a compromised organisation” and there are a number of documented examples of actions the WHO took that have been detrimental to public health interests, but beneficial to certain industries.[5]  

Slide courtesy of Dr Pierre Kory

So, who are these corporate and non-profit companies that are now contributing such large proportions of funds to the budget of the WHO and how far are they influencing the WHO’s operations, especially with regard to the pandemic response? 

Policies that fit the ‘Bill’ (& Melinda Gates)

Looking at the WHO’s list of funding sources, you may be surprised to learn that the second biggest donor is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). Since 2000, BGMF has donated over $3.9 Billion, and since these funds are usually earmarked for specific projects or diseases, WHO can’t freely decide how to use them.[6]

World Health Organization. (2019). “WHO Results Report – Program Budget 2018-2019, Mid-Term Review” (p. 82) Retrieved from https://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA72/A72_35-en.pdf

As a consequence of Gates’ financial influence over the WHO’s operations, “Gates’ priorities have become the WHO’s.” [7] In fact, a Geneva-based NGO representative has revealed that Bill Gates is treated by the WHO like a “head of state”. [8] And since the BMGF’s focus has long been on delivering vaccines,[9] it comes as no surprise that the WHO has shown very little interest in promoting the use of cheap, old repurposed medications in the treatment and prevention of Covid-19.[10]  

But the Gates’ influence doesn’t’ stop there. BGMF also heavily finances another large WHO funder, GAVI, the Global Vaccine Alliance. Added together, the Gates have a say over more financing for WHO than any single country.Indeed, in April 2021, the GAV put out a statement saying that Ivermectin is not recommended for use as a treatment for Covid.[11] From Dr Kory’s perspective regarding the WHO’s Living Guideline on Therapeutics in Covid-19 “every sentence was written to destroy Ivermectin” and he believes this is a clear example of the Diversion Tactic as detailed in the “Disinformation Playbook”, i.e., “Manufacture uncertainty about science where little or none exists.”

Based on Dr Pierre Kory’s analysis, this is what the WHO did with the ivermectin evidence-base:

  • Failed to publish a pre-established protocol for data exclusion
  • Excluded two “quasi-randomised” controlled trials (RCTs) with lower mortality
  • Excluded two RCTs that compared ivermectin to or gave it together with other medications, all reporting lower mortality
  • Excluded seven other available ivermectin RCT results
  • Excluded all RCTs and observational controlled trials (OCTs) investigating ivermectin in the prevention of Covid-19
  • Excluded 13 OCTs, over 5,500 patients, that showed reductions in mortality
  • Excluded numerous published and pre-print epidemiologic studies

In summary, according to Dr Kory, evidence in support of ivermectin was ignored, downgraded and the science was distorted and manipulated to their own ends, i.e., to preserve the vaccination policy. He proposes a very clear motive for undermining it: “If Ivermectin were to be recommended, it would take away the Emergency Use Authorization supporting the vaccines”.[12]

WHO is Charged with Misconduct

Dr Kory is not the only one criticising the WHO’s negative bias against ivermectin.

In May 2021, the Indian Bar Association charged WHO chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan with the “mass murder of Indians”, based on Dr. Swaminathan speaking out against the use of Ivermectin in the Tamil Nadu province, “with the consequence that Ivermectin’s use was blocked and Covid cases skyrocketed with deaths increasing ten-fold”[13].

Acting for the Indian Bar Association, Dipali Ojha said the WHO official “is accused of misconduct because she used her position as a public health official to further the agenda of special interests to maintain an Emergency Use Authorization for the lucrative vaccine industry”.[14] 

In her 71-point brief, Ojah states that the WHO has been ”complicit in a vast disinformation campaign” and points out that “The FLCCC and the BiRD (group) have shown exemplary courage in building a formidable force to tackle the challenge of disinformation, resistance, and rebuke from pharma lobbies and powerful health interests like WHO, NIH, CDC, and regulators like the US FDA.”[15]

In another astonishing example of their incongruous and censorious policy, WHO has sponsored home covid treatment kits for the 240 million people living in the Indian province of Uttar Pradesh. The active treatment component in the kit is ivermectin and has been widely acknowledged to have been an important factor in virtually eradicating covid in that province.  Yet despite heralding the success of this program on their official website, and listing all the other contents, they do not mention ivermectin at all, even though it is the only explanation of the massive drop in cases. 

Integrity, accountability, independence and impartiality, respect and professional commitment.

These are the ethical principles that the WHO has committed itself to.[16] Yet by opening itself up to private funders who are largely acting in the interests of a capitalist-driven pharmaceutical industry (and not necessarily in the interest of public health and wellbeing), one may argue that the WHO has woefully failed in living up to its own principles. 

Perhaps it had to take a major event like the Covid-19 pandemic to expose the true extent of how the WHO has failed the health of the world. And perhaps now is the time to remind ourselves of what it is we expect from those who are making authoritative decisions about our own health and wellbeing.


[1] https://www.who.int/about

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkIKCbwBcLU (from 31:10)

[3] https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/disinformation-playbook

[4] https://youtu.be/LkIKCbwBcLU?t=2646

[5] https://covid19criticalcare.com/videos-and-press/the-whos-denial-of-ivermectin/

[6] 6 https://www.politico.eu/article/bill-gates-who-most-powerful-doctor/

[7] https://www.politico.eu/article/bill-gates-who-most-powerful-doctor/

[8] https://www.politico.eu/article/bill-gates-who-most-powerful-doctor/

[9] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/23/world/bill-gates-vaccine-coronavirus.html

[10] https://www.politico.eu/article/bill-gates-who-most-powerful-doctor/

[11] https://www.gavi.org/vaccineswork/ivermectin-why-potential-covid-treatment-isnt-recommended-use

[12] https://covid19criticalcare.com/videos-and-press/the-whos-denial-of-ivermectin/

[13] https://www.thedesertreview.com/opinion/columnists/indian-bar-association-sues-who-scientist-over-ivermectin/article_f90599f8-c7be-11eb-a8dc-0b3cbb3b4dfa.html

[14] https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2021/08/23/indian-bar-association-charges-who-chief-scientist-for-mass-murder/

[15] https://www.thedesertreview.com/opinion/columnists/indian-bar-association-sues-who-scientist-over-ivermectin/article_f90599f8-c7be-11eb-a8dc-0b3cbb3b4dfa.html

[16] https://www.who.int/about/ethics/ethical-principles

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