Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum came under heavy flak Thursday for her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for the alleged manipulation of a study which recommended the use of ivermectin to treat this disease.
At the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, this drug was highly praised by some physicians but it was later disadvised by the World Health Organization (WHO). By June 2020, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), following the WHO guidelines, also spoke against it citing lack of evidence of its effectiveness.
Despite this, Mexico City authorities kept distributing COVID-19 packages which included ivermectin for several months and released a study by the Digital Agency for Public Innovation (ADIP) signed by José Peña Merino, from the ADIP and the Mexico City's Health Secretary Oliva López, which announced that the drug reduced the probability of hospitalization by 68%.
The report was originally released by scientific SocArXiv website, which carries articles by social science scholars not yet peer-reviewed, sponsored by the University of Maryland, the Center for Open Science, the Open Society Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. This article has been now removed from the website for being false and misleading after University of San Diego Sociology Professor Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra sent a note strong warning the report gave the drug a test to a gigantic universe of users not controlled scientifically who were unaware that they were part of an experiment.
Pardo-Guerra later summarized his views on Mexican magazine Nexos, which President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has accused of being part of a conservative bloc that seeks to corner his government.
Sociologist Philip N. Cohoen, director of SocArXiv, ordered the article removed claiming there was never a good reason for the mass distribution of this drug, and every reason to be skeptical or opposed.
The case has been used by Sheinbaum's political rivals. She is believed to be AMLO's natural successor and is ahead in most polls for the 2024 elections. She insisted the attack on ivermectin was merely a smear campaign against her.
The distribution to thousands of people in the capital of the controversial treatment not approved as coronavirus therapy by the country's regulatory authorities involved disbursements of around US $ 1 .4 million.