It’s important to note that I’ve never been to Uttar Pradesh right at the start of this article. I’ve spoken to many doctors who work in the state, and have heard some truly devastating things, but all I can speak to personally is the data, so that’s what this piece is about. It’s also worth noting that this piece is based largely on reported numbers for the state, and those figures appear to be quite suspect — it’s possible that the reporting of Covid-19 in Uttar Pradesh is simply so bad that none of the statements made about the state (including those in this article) are true.
In the long, exhausting story of ivermectin for Covid-19, there are many claims being made. Some are simply absurd, like the idea that pharmaceutical companies can’t make money off generic medications (they absolutely can, and do), and some are more interesting and require some thought. However, none of them have quite the staying power of the idea that ivermectin saved Uttar Pradesh, a large Indian state, from the coronavirus. Enter any online conversation about the drug and guaranteed, within minutes, someone will bring up Uttar Pradesh as definitive proof that ivermectin works.
Which is odd, because it can’t possibly have been ivermectin that caused Uttar Pradesh’s drop in Covid-19 numbers earlier this year, nor the lengthy period of low cases that followed. There were many influences on Uttar Pradesh — including a large test/trace program, lockdowns, and a decent vaccination campaign — so it’s hard to know exactly what did work, but one thing we can be quite certain of is that ivermectin didn’t.
Let’s look at what really happened.
Uttar Pradesh and Covid-19
The claim about Uttar Pradesh and Covid-19 is fairly simple — cases were going up steeply in the middle of the year, at which point ivermectin was introduced and suddenly cases dropped and have been low since. Therefore, it must have been the ivermectin!