Carrying a Covid-19 patient in a village near Iquitos, Peru
21 years ago, I traveled to Iquitos, Peru. Ever since I’ve had an interest in the people there. I have no medical training. But when my friends in Iquitos told me the story of what had happened in their city, I felt a responsibility to do research and possibly share it. Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time communicating with my contacts in Iquitos.
Yesterday I asked blog readers “If you knew a cure for covid, would you share it?” The answer was overwhelmingly “Yes.” As one doctor, Brett Oliver, said, “The information on a potential treatment should be made available. Waiting for someone to officially approve something often delays things needlessly.” So, here is the story. I did my best to corroborate the details through multiple sources.
“It will be a massacre”
As you read this, labs across the world are brewing vaccines to protect us against Covid. But Iquitos didn’t have the luxury of time. A city of 450,000 people deep in the Amazon jungle, its people were dying. Covid was running rampant in the population. Time magazine’s May 29 article asked this about Peru, Why is the Coronavirus outbreak So Bad?
The New Humanitarian filed this report on June 2.
“Within weeks, the corridors of the regional hospital in Iquitos, the country’s largest Amazonian city, were overflowing. Patients lay on mats or slumped in chairs, connected by slender tubes to life-giving tanks of oxygen.
Then the lifeline ran out.
The hospital’s poorly maintained oxygen plant was only partly operational and couldn’t keep pace with a demand of as many as 500 tanks a day. As patients died for lack of oxygen, desperate relatives lined up overnight outside the two private companies that sold refills.”
A local administrator, Miguel Fuertes, said, “This is a disaster, and it will be a massacre, not only because of the virus, but because of [official] incompetence.”
70% of the people in Iquitos had contracted Covid. Elias Valles is pastor of Remanente Church, the church we worked with. He is a man that I have found trustworthy over two decades of relationship. He reported that “At its peak, the virus was killing 100 people a day.” The Guardian’s headline was We are Living in a Catastrophe! Indigenous people along the Amazon without health care were especially vulnerable.
In that desperate place, Valles’ son, Caleb, decided that something had to be done. He created a group to pray and research options to help.
An amazing discovery
Then a government nurse told him about an amazing discovery. Some of the people who were getting sick were also making extraordinarily quick recoveries. Upon further investigation, they learned that they were taking Ivermectin, a common anti-parasite drug frequently used to help both people and animals fight worms.
Caleb and his friends bought a large supply of Ivermectin. They were able to get it cheaply from veterinarians. They began to distribute it to the poor up and down the river. Their dosage varied according to weight, but averaged about 1.6 mg. Because they didn’t have official approval, they kept their efforts quiet. But as word got out that people were being healed, lines began to form to buy Ivermectin. Prices soared.
Eventually thousands of injections of Ivermectin were given. Caleb estimates 15,000 people were treated with a success rate of nearly 100%. He says that a few people suffering from co-morbidities died, but the vast majority were better within a day or two.
Kan Mendoza Chu, 45, was a typical example (I was given multiple examples). Having contracted Covid-19, he had a fever, hurt all over his body, and had lost his appetite. He was give .8 cc of Ivermectin subcutaneously, and the next day, Chu was 90% better. He made a full recovery subsequently.
Word spread to other clinics and soon, most of those in Iquitos had been given a dosage and the virus was eradicated.
Ciro Maguiña, one of Peru’s top infectious disease doctors, was the first to officially acknowledge the role that Ivermectin played in stopping the epidemic. The magazine Pro&Contra, says the people of Iquitos “never strictly adhered to the medical protocols of the Ministry of Health, on the contrary, they supplied Ivermectin to almost their entire population, slowing the advance and impact of the lethal virus by 95%.”
What research is there on Ivermectin?
In April, an Australian group reported success (see this article) in its in vitro tests using Covid. Dr. Kylie Wagstaff, who led the study, says “We found that even a single dose could essentially remove all viral RNA by 48 hours and that even at 24 hours there was a really significant reduction in it.”
She goes on to say that “the mechanism by which Ivermectin works on the virus is still unknown but it seems that the action of this drug is based on its action in other viruses, that it works to stop the virus ‘dampening down’ the ability of the host cell clear it.”
In Bangladesh, a small study of 100 Covid patients showed that “all patients tested negative and their symptoms improved within 72 hours.”
Of course a full understanding of how Ivermectin works and when it can be appropriately used is still a long way off. Governmental agencies like the FDA warn in no uncertain terms that Ivermectin “is not approved for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.”
Though similar reports of Ivermectin’s efficacy against Covid have surfaced elsewhere, the medical community is cautious.
“Human testing must be done,” they say.
Caleb Valles replies, “We’ve tested Ivermectin on thousands of people here in Iquitos and it stopped Covid dead in its tracks. We just want the rest of the world to see what we’ve seen.”
For more recent research, see my next post
1. 16 studies going on as of August 18, according to
This article also says the in vivo doses in those studies are likely too low to achieve kill.
2. In this article from June, two researchers write that the original study used cell-culture doses that would be toxic for people. The original study authors counter by saying the drug doesn’t attack the virus per se but rather a protein used in replication and in similar cases you need a much smaller amount to slow the virus down and help the body mount its own immune response.
3. This Israeli study uses human trials. https://www.jpost.com/health-science/israeli-researcher-anti-parasitic-drug-could-cure-coronavirus-631526
4. This Japanese trial looks like it will be credible:
5. A 15 min documentary on Ivermectin in Peru: