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An agricultural student learns how to administer ivermectin to swine.

Photo by U.S. Pacific Fleet is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

You know things are off the wall when even the FDA can't keep a straight face. What could the U.S. Food and Drug Administration say to Americans who refuse to get a coronavirus vaccine administered by medical professionals but instead go to a livestock supply house for a drug designed to deworm horses and cows? Ivermectin in big animal doses can easily make a human sick and possibly dead.

The FDA did issue a warning for people using ivermectin to prevent or treat the virus. But it also playfully tweeted: "You are not a horse. You are not a cow."

Some might deem it inappropriate to apply humor to a matter attached to serious health consequences. Some anti-vaxxers of the right-wing persuasion may accuse intellectual elites of looking down on them. They're not wrong, but average functional folk are also rubbing their eyes in disbelief.

The only logical explanations are stupidity, mental disability, and terminal ignorance. That Sen. Ron Johnson has endorsed use of ivermectin for early treatment of COVID-19 does not change the explanation.

After the FDA gave full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Johnson issued the following statement: "Our federal health agencies have not been forthright with the public about how these life altering decisions have been made or what science and data they are based upon. ... The American people deserve full and accurate information so that they make up their own minds regarding vaccination."

I understand little about aeronautics, but I get onto jet planes anyway because I know credentialed engineers have overseen the building of a safe aircraft. I don't feel I have to study the "science and data" of flight, because I know that experts are on the case.

Now you see people on TV, not all right-wingers, say they won't get the shot until they've researched the evidence on the vaccine. Some look like they couldn't operate a toaster, but if they want to examine the science and data, there are scholarly papers on the virus and its spread at their disposal, courtesy of the National Academy of Sciences. (Surely, they know all about interquartile ranges.)

Likewise, I could devote a decade to studying how those planes get off the ground before boarding one, but I'll pass.

A feed store in Las Vegas that ran out of ivermectin has posted a sign saying it will not sell it to customers who can't produce a picture of them with their horse.

Shelly Smith, manager of V&V Tack and Feed, recalled a man telling her that his wife wanted him on the "ivermectin plan." She told him that it was not safe to take, to which he said, "Well, we've been taking it, and my only side effect is I can't see in the morning." Smith said she responded, "That's a big side effect, so, I mean, you probably shouldn't take it."

Confusing matters, ivermectin in far smaller doses has been used to treat certain parasitic infections in humans. Rest assured, however, that reputable doctors are not prescribing horse paste to human patients.

Resistance to vaccines designed for humans and openness to horse meds seems especially acute in so-called conservative parts of the country. The anti-vaccine hordes of the right seem to be charging unarmed into the reality of a well-equipped and heartless virus. It's a free country, right?

Fifty years from now, documentaries about the COVID-19 crisis may relieve the grimness with a short section about the run on horse meds set to playful music. The associated tragedies will probably be forgotten, mainly because they were self-inflicted.

What can you do about people who choose veterinary medicine over the human kind? Nothing, really.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com

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