Anti vaxxers are flogging drugs used for livestock – claiming they give immunity to Covid-19.
A group on encrypted messaging app Telegram promises Brits “vital medicines denied because of politics”.
More than 2,700 have joined a forum called “Medical Freedom – HCQ for everyone UK”. Hosts claim Ivermectin – most commonly used to treat parasites in horses and cows – is an alternative to the vaccine.
Posts are littered with lies and misinformation. The hosts claim the vaccine is a “death jab” and that they have saved lives by selling Ivermectin.
They share a debunked conspiracy theory that a two-year-old died from taking the Pfizer jab during a clinical trial.
And they claim, when combined with other drugs, vaccination speeds up the ageing process and increases the risk of certain cancers in women.
Conspiracies around Ivermectin are rife in the US. Two people in New Mexico died after taking pills. Hundreds more have been hospitalised.
Now Brits are being targeted. An undercover Sunday Mirror reporter was added to the channel, where buyers were invited to message an admin host directly to secure a supply.
He told us his “best seller” was a £100 “three day cleanse” – 90 3mg pills giving “12 months protection” .
And for £500, we could have a “full 500 pill drum” delivered the next day.
He falsely added: “Treatments have been proven safe for children to the elderly including pregnant women. In other parts of the world [they] are sold over the counter.
“Because of politics we ask you not to share this vital communication as we are determined to save lives, not fight authorities that should supply stocks.”
After opting for the £100 pack, he asked us to pay into the account of a company based in West London. He added: “Please do not take screenshots of our financial information.”
But he later sent another message saying: “We are more open to cash transactions as they keep disrupting our bank account service.”
A courier handed over 90 pills at a pub car park in Abbey Wood, South East London. They were labelled as if made by pharmaceutical giant MSD.
We asked two labs to test the drugs. They were inconclusive but said the pills’ appearance was consistent with a brand of Ivermectin made by MSD.
One report said: “The tablets look well-made and match the markings of Stromectol, the Ivermectin product made by MSD. This of course does not mean they are not counterfeit as counterfeit pharmaceuticals often cannot be distinguished by appearance these days.”
In February, MSD issued a statement on potential use of Ivermectin to treat coronavirus. It said there was “no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against Covid-19 from pre-clinical studies” and “a concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies”.
TV doctor Chris van Tulleken hit out at the scam. He said: “I’m a tropical diseases doctor and one of the few in this country who prescribes [Ivermectin] routinely. It categorically does not work for Covid. You can kill viruses in test tubes with it, but you’d need up to 100 times more than the lethal dose for a human.” The Mirror has alerted police and the medicines regulator MHRA.
We also presented the group admin with our findings. He accused us of a “treason to humanity”, saying: “You lied and will cause many to die.”
MSD said: “Safety is paramount. We will conduct a full investigation and inform regulators and agencies. Medicines should only be prescribed by a health care professional.”