Advance Notice: Briefs

GOP leader urges state to investigate debunked COVID-19 treatment 

By: - September 3, 2021 12:20 pm

(L-R): Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, Jan. 14, 2020 | Laina G. Stebbins

State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) tweeted Friday that Michigan should investigate ivermectin as a treatment to COVID-19, even though medical professionals across the country have found that it is ineffective and potentially dangerous. 

I am not qualified to determine the veracity of these studies. That requires medical professionals. However, these claims beg the question why the medical community in America (or MI) isn’t at least vigorously investigating,” Shirkey tweeted with a link to a database of ivermectin COVID-19 studies.

Safety warning posted near the ivermectin at Blain’s Farm and Fleet in Standale, MI on Aug. 31, 2020 | Allison R. Donahue

The state, Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have all urged people not to take ivermectin to treat COVID-19.

Ivermectin is a medication intended to treat parasitic illnesses, like head lice and scabies in humans and worms in animals. 

Dr. Rob Davidson, a West Michigan emergency room physician and Committee to Protect Health Care executive director, responded to Shirkey on Twitter saying that ivermectin “has been investigated-and the legit studies say no.”

In Michigan and nationwide, ivermectin-related calls to poison control centers have spiked during the pandemic as people have been self-medicating for COVID-19. 

The Republican leader has a long history of spreading COVID misinformation and opposing health measures. In addition to resisting a mask mandate for the state Senate from the start, opposing a statewide mandate and vigorously fighting against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 restrictions, Shirkey last fall made comments promoting the idea of “herd immunity” as a replacement for public health protocols before vaccines were approved.

Shirkey, who said he recovered from having COVID-19 in December, has publicly stated he is against getting the vaccination and believes he has “natural immunity” to the virus. He told a JTV host he believes he has natural immunity “forever.”

When questioned by the host about the veracity of the claim, Shirkey then said, “We don’t know how long it’s going to last. That was my phrase.”

He initially announced he wouldn’t attend the biggest political conference of the year in Michigan, the Mackinac Policy Conference, due to its vaccine requirement, which he called “crazy.” However, Shirkey then said in August on JTV he would try and crash the event later this month.


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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.