Premier needs to take stronger stand to denounce ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment: Sask. NDP

The leader of Saskatchewan's Official Opposition says Premier Scott Moe needs to be clearer in denouncing ivermectin — a medication commonly used as a horse dewormer — as a treatment for COVID-19.

'I'm not sure about the science behind that,' Scott Moe said at Thursday news conference

Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili is shown at a news conference in August 2021. Meili says there are clear recommendations against using ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment, following comments from Premier Scott Moe that he was 'not sure about the science behind that." (Dayne Patterson/CBC)

The leader of Saskatchewan's Official Opposition says Premier Scott Moe needs to be clearer in denouncing ivermectin — a medication commonly used as a dewormer for livestock — as a treatment for COVID-19.

Moe made reference to ivermectin during a Thursday news conference, where he delivered a COVID-19 update.

The premier was asked if he felt his Saskatchewan Party government had done enough to denounce COVID-19 conspiracy theories.

"I think there's … a number of conspiracy theories that yes, elected people can address," Moe said. "

"For example, the emergency [pandemic health] order is not in place so that the minister of health or myself can gather up anyone's cows.… That is an example of a conspiracy theory that I think is fair for elected people to addresss," Moe said.

"Where it gets challenging … if people want to use a horse dewormer, for example, or a cow dewormer to treat COVID-19, I'm not sure about the science behind that," Moe said.

"There's an opportunity for our medical community to actually step in and explain what a horse dewormer like ivermectin actually is used for … and why it might not be quite as effective when it comes to COVID-19."

'Sure about the science': Meili

But NDP Leader Ryan Meili says the science about using ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment is clear.

"We've been sure about the science on that for a long time. It doesn't work. It does not prevent COVID, it does not treat COVID," Meili said.

Ivermectin is a medicine used to treat parasites, such as intestinal worms or lice, in animals and humans.

But early studies exploring its effectiveness as an anti-viral medication that could be used to treat COVID-19 have been used to fuel misinformation.

Ivermectin has not been approved for use in either Canada or the United States for the treatment of coronaviruses and no clinical studies have proven whether it can slow or stop the spread of the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 in humans. 

Health Canada has issued an advisory against using either the veterinary or human drug versions of ivermectin to treat COVID-19.

The veterinary version of ivermectin can be dangerous for humans and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, allergic reactions, dizziness, seizures, coma or even death, Health Canada says.

No clinical trial applications have been submitted for the drug in this country.

There is "very clear science" on using ivermectin to treat COVID-19 and the recommendations are "very clear," Meili said.

"Don't take medications you aren't prescribed. Don't take medications that aren't for something you have.

"Trust your doctors, get your vaccine, and Scott Moe — get it together. Tell people clearly: 'yes get the shot, don't take ivermectin.' It's that easy."


Adeoluwa Atayero is a communications officer for CBC News based in Saskatchewan. Before moving to Canada, Atayero worked as a reporter, content manager and communications consultant in Lagos, Nigeria. He holds a masters in journalism from the University of Regina. @theadeatayero