Fact check: False claim FTX funded research into ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment

12 月 13, 2022World News

The claim: FTX funded TOGETHER Trial research that found ivermectin ineffective for treating COVID-19

TOGETHER Trial, a research consortium that studies the use of existing drugs as treatments for diseases, produced one of the most significant studies labeling ivermectin ineffective at reducing hospitalizations from COVID-19.

Some social media users still believe in the potential of ivermectin, however, and have attempted to link TOGETHER and FTX, the now-failed cryptocurrency exchange.

“Holy crap, look who funded the trial that said ivermectin didn’t work,” a Nov. 15 Instagram post read. The post is a screenshot of a tweet and part of a page showing the FTX Foundation as a sponsor of the research. It accumulated more than 3,000 likes in two weeks.

The original tweet, from Nov. 13, was retweeted more than 4,000 times.

FTX did support TOGETHER, but not until after the ivermectin trial. The FTX Foundation announced its donation in May 2022, two months after the results of the ivermectin study were published online. The donation was intended to support future research.

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USA TODAY reached out to the Instagram user who shared the claim for comment. The Twitter user could not be reached.

FTX pledge came after ivermectin study was complete

FTX was one of the largest crypto exchanges, reportedly valued at $32 billion in a January funding round. In November, however, concerns fueled in part by media reports about its business practices led to investors pulling money out of the exchange, accelerating a downward spiral. FTX is under investigation as at least $1 billion in customer funds are reportedly missing.

Before the current controversy, on May 16, the FTX Foundation announced $18 million in funding and purchase commitments to TOGETHER, including a pledge of $15 million in funding to support additional arms of the trial for treatment of other diseases.

TOGETHER published the results of the ivermectin study on March 30 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The abstract for the study lists two sources of funding – FastGrants and the Rainwater Charitable Foundation.

The FTX Foundation, which had been funded by FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried and other FTX principals, has not announced most of the specifics of how its donation would be used. A $3.25 million grant was used to expand the trial network’s core infrastructure, according to the announcement.

It is unclear how much of the committed funding TOGETHER has received or will receive, as FTX filed for bankruptcy protection on Nov. 17. It is no longer listed as a trial funder or sponsor on TOGETHER’S website.

The TOGETHER Trial has so far studied 11 possible treatments for COVID-19 across 22 sites in Brazil.  It now can also conduct studies in Pakistan and South Africa.

Reuters also has debunked the claim.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that FTX funded TOGETHER Trial research that found ivermectin ineffective for treating COVID-19. The study was published before the FTX Foundation had announced its commitments, and FTX is not listed among the funders in the study report. The FTX funding was also earmarked for expanding TOGETHER’s future research, not paying for earlier research.

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