Britain's Queen Elizabeth II
Social media users claim an Australian doctor recommended the Queen be treated with ivermectin. Image by AP

Queen TV story error sparks false claim about doctor’s COVID advice

AAP FactCheck February 23, 2022
WHAT WAS CLAIMED

An Australian doctor recommended Queen Elizabeth II be treated with ivermectin for COVID-19.

OUR VERDICT

False. The claim is based on a clip used in error during a TV segment on the Queen’s condition.

Social media users have claimed an Australian doctor recommended the Queen take ivermectin to treat COVID-19.

Dr Mukesh Haikerwal appeared on Channel 9’s A Current Affair on Monday (February 21) to discuss possible treatments following the Queen’s recent diagnosis. But the claim he recommended the 95-year-old take ivermectin is false.

Dr Haikerwal confirmed to AAP FactCheck via email that he never recommended the drug. A representative from A Current Affair (ACA) also confirmed the claim is false, and that an image of the drug was erroneously displayed during a report on the Queen’s condition.

The ACA segment has since been removed from the 9Now website, and a new, corrected version has been uploaded along with an apology and clarification.

But this was not before clips of the original segment made it onto social media. In the clips the ACA reporter says: “Dr Mukesh Haikerwal says a COVID patient the Queen’s age should be isolating and might benefit from new medicines currently approved for high risk patients at Australian hospitals.”

The story then cuts to an image of Stromectol – a trade name for ivermectin – and back to Dr Haikerwal saying: “These tablets or these infusions can make a dramatic difference to their immediate welfare and health and how they feel, but also their long-term benefits as well.”

The use of the image in conjunction with Dr Haikerwal’s comments was interpreted by many social media users that he was promoting the use of ivermectin for the Queen, even though he did not say that at any point during the story.

Versions of the clip were widely shared across social media platforms (see here, here, here and here), with some claiming the doctor is recommending the Queen be treated with ivermectin (see here and here). One Instagram user wrote in a post that included the original segment: “They slammed Joe Rogan for using ivermectin and now this Dr is saying its (sic) effective.”

Dr Haikerwal confirmed to AAP FactCheck that he never recommended the Queen be treated with ivermectin.

“This was an unfortunate sequence of events where I gave commentary in a segment of just over a minute about the risks to health of a 90-year-old with COVID, the chances of having a milder case if they were vaccinated and the fact that they (sic) were new infusions and tablets starting to come into use in Australia that are used around the world that can reduce the duration and severity of COVID-19,” he said in an email.

According to Dr Haikerwal, the ACA segment “started a frenzy – especially in Brazil – overnight,” which he addressed on Twitter when he woke on the morning of February 22.

In response, Dr Haikerwal tweeted his support for COVID vaccines and directed followers to the list of the new COVID antiviral treatments he was referring to in the interview. He also stated he had been advised the imaging used in the segment was being updated (see here and here). In September last year, Dr Haikerwal was cited as believing ivermectin could not help COVID patients.

ACA confirmed to AAP FactCheck the shot should not have been included.

“The shot was included as a result of human error,” an ACA representative said in an email. “We were highlighting an approved infusion medication called Sotrovimab and the report accidentally cut to a shot of Stromectol.”

ACA added a clarification on its website after removing the original segment.

ACA said it did not intend to suggest Dr Haikerwal has endorsed Stromectol.

“We’ve apologised to him this morning (February 22), and he has accepted that apology,” ACA said in its statement.

ACA has previously highlighted the concerns around ivermectin as a treatment for COVID.

The claim suggesting the Queen is being treated with ivermectin has also been debunked by Reuters, The Guardian, Snopes and Full Fact. AAP FactCheck has previously investigated other claims relating to ivermectin here, here and here.

The Verdict

Dr Mukesh Haikerwal did not recommend the Queen be treated with ivermectin for COVID. The doctor’s commentary in the TV segment was erroneously paired with an image of Stromectol (ivermectin). ACA has since corrected the segment and issued an apology to Dr Haikerwal.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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