The Claim and Our Verdict
- The claim: An LIHKG post published on Oct. 27, 2021, claims that Japan has substituted ivermectin for vaccines and brought down COVID-19 infections. LIHKG is a multi-category forum website based in Hong Kong.
- Japan’s health authorities have approved vaccine booster shots and are getting ready to begin third doses of vaccines. According to Our World in Data, Japan’s number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered each day exceeds 310,000. Therefore, Japan has never suspended its COVID-19 vaccination rolloutc.
- As of the issuance of this report, Japan had not approved ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment. The World Health Organization (WHO), European Medicines Agency, and Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration do not support the use of ivermectin for COVID-19 treatment outside well-designed clinical trials.
- Although Japan’s recent COVID-19 cases have shown a downward trend, there are still more than 100 new cases every day. It is false that “Japan has brought down COVID-19 infections.”
- Our ruling: Therefore, we rate the claim as FALSE.
An LIHKG post published Oct. 27, 2021 claims that Japan has substituted ivermectin for COVID-19 vaccines. Attached with the post is a news screenshot titled “Japan stopped its vaccine rollout, treated people with ivermectin and ended COVID-19 almost overnight.” In addition, the post cites an article published Oct. 27, 2021, on the Hal Turner Radio Show website. The Hal Turner article claims that the head of the Tokyo Medical Association went on national television in September and told doctors to start using ivermectin because Japan had just proven that ivermectin could wipe out the COVID-19 disease in less than one month.
According to the Hal Turner Radio Show’s “About” page, the radio program is operated by Hal Turner, an American far-right political commentator. The website claims it focuses on news, issues, and opinions that the mainstream will not talk about. According to an FBI press release published Dec. 21, 2010, Turner was sentenced to 33 months in prison for threatening to assault three federal appeals court judges in Chicago in retaliation for their 2009 ruling upholding handgun bans in Chicago and a suburb. It is noteworthy that PolitiFact, an American fact-checking website and a member of International Fact-Checking Network, has published several fact checks on Turner’s statements. It states that Tuner uses internet and radio broadcasts to float conspiracy theories and hate speech.
As of the issuance of this report, the post had received 25 positive comments and 20 negative ones. The Hal Turner article had been viewed tens of thousands of times.
1. Did Japan halt its COVID-19 vaccination rollout?
According to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW), the COVID-19 vaccines available in Japan are the Pfizer vaccine (Comirnaty), Moderna vaccine, and AstraZeneca vaccine (Vaxzevria). According to Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, people who enter Japan must be vaccinated with one of the above three vaccines.
In addition, Our World in Data, a COVID-19 vaccine tracking platform operated by a research team based at the University of Oxford, published the daily COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in Japan. The data show that as of Nov. 18, 2021, Japan’s daily doses administered exceeded 100,000. We can conclude that Japan has not halted its COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
Reuters’ COVID-19 tracker shows that the number of doses administered in Japan indicated an upward trend from February 17, 2021, to November 18, 2021. According to the data, Japan’s daily vaccine doses administered on average were 310,176 during the week before Nov. 18, 2021.
According to the arrangement of the booster dose published by MHLW and several news articles published by Reuters, Nikkei, and NHK, Japanese authorities approved vaccine booster shots, available to all eligible, on Oct. 28, 2021. Japan will start administering third COVID-19 vaccine shots on Dec. 1, 2021.
Keyword searches did not produce any official statement concerning the suspension of COVID-19 vaccine administration in Japan as of the issuance of this report. Therefore, Japan did not halt its COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
2.Has Japan substituted ivermectin for vaccines?
A keyword search on the website of the MHLW found an article published Aug. 26, 2020, titled “Prevention of coronavirus disease.” It introduces ivermectin as a drug for the treatment of conditions caused by nematodes and scabies. It cites several related studies on ivermectin’s inhibition of coronavirus and regards ivermectin as a candidate for treatment of COVID-19, but it does not indicate whether the drug has been officially approved for treatment of COVID-19.
Ivermectin is not included in the approved medical products for COVID-19 according to the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency, an independent administrative institution responsible for ensuring the safety, efficacy, and quality of pharmaceuticals and medical devices in Japan.
HKBU FactCheck Service has published a fact check on ivermectin’s effectiveness against COVID-19. According to the fact check, ivermectin is an anti-parasitic drug discovered in the 1970s by Japanese scientist Satoshi Omura and Irish biologist William C. Campbell. Although one study proves that ivermectin is effective in inhibiting coronavirus in in vitro experiments (a laboratory-controlled environment), the drug’s effectiveness against COVID-19 inside the human body has not been proven. The WHO, European Medicines Agency, and Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration do not support the use of ivermectin for COVID-19 treatment outside well-designed clinical trials.
Therefore, Japan did not substitute ivermectin for vaccines to prevent COVID-19.
3.Has Japan brought down COVID-19 infections?
The WHO’s data show that Japan logged 162 new confirmed cases on Nov. 19, 2021. According to the WHO’s dashboard, confirmed COVID-19 cases have plunged recently, but there are still more than 100 new cases every day. Thus, Japan has not brought down COVID-19 infections.
In addition, the article attached in the LIHKG post claims that the head of the Tokyo Medical Association asked doctors to use ivermectin on a Japanese national television program.
A keyword search found that the head of the Tokyo Medical Association is Haruo Ozaki. According to the live broadcasts by ANNnews and TBS NEWS, Haruo Ozaki suggested the use of ivermectin for COVID-19 treatment but that he added, “Of course, we need to do clinical trials to confirm ivermectin’s efficacy, but we are in an urgent situation. Concerning the use of ivermectin, it is obviously necessary to obtain the informed consent of the patients, and I think we’re in a situation where we can afford to give them this treatment.”
A news article published Aug. 13, 2021, by Tokyo Web, a Japanese news website, quoted Ozaki’s speech: “One can only confirm ivermectin’s efficacy on the basis of clinical trials and research. But at the current stage, ivermectin can only be used with the patient’s informed consent.”
Ozaki did publicly support the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19, but the Japanese authorities have not approved it yet.
Therefore, we rate the claim as FALSE.
- LIHKG post, Oct. 27, 2021.
- Hal Turner Radio Show, “Japan drops vax rollout, goes to Ivermectin, ENDS COVID almost overnight,” Oct. 27, 2021.
- Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, COVID-19 Vaccines.
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, “COVID-19 Vaccination Certificates Valid for Entry into Japan from Abroad,” Nov. 9, 2021.
- Our World in Data, Daily COVID-19 vaccine doses administered, Japan.
- Reuters COVID-19 Tracker.
- Reuters, “Japan prepares beds, booster shots in COVID-19 lull before winter,” 14, 2021.
- Nikkei Asia, “Japan to make COVID booster shots available to all eligible,” Oct. 29, 2021.
- NHK, “Japan gears up for vaccine booster shots,” Nov. 17, 2021.
- Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Prevention of Coronavirus disease.
- Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency, Services of PMDA.
- Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency, Approved Medical Products for COVID-19.
- HKBU Factcheck Service, “[FALSE] Is Ivermectin effective in treating COVID-19 patients,” 23, 2021.
- WHO, The International Pharmacopoeia.
- WHO, The International Pharmacopoeia (10th edition), Ivermectin.
- The Nobel Prize, Satoshi Omura Facts.
- The Nobel Prize, William C. Campbell Facts.
- Satoshi Omura and Andy Crump, “The life and times of ivermectin — a success story,” published in Dec. 2004.
- WHO, “WHO advises that ivermectin only be used to treat COVID-19 within clinical trials,” March 31, 2021.
- European Medicines Agency, “EMA advises against use of ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 outside randomised clinical trials,” March 22, 2021.
- Therapeutic Goods Administration, Department t of Health, Australian Government, “New restrictions on prescribing ivermectin for COVID-19,” Sep. 10, 2021.
- WHO, Japan Situation.
- YouTube, ANNnews, “‘Infection situation is out of control. Medical care provision is dysfunctional’—What are the future measures? Tokyo Metropolitan Medical Association holds an emergency press conference,” Aug. 13, 2021.
- YouTube, TBS NEWS, “Tokyo Metropolitan Medical Association emergency meeting in respond to rapid spread of infection,” Aug. 13, 2021.
- Tokyo Web, report on Aug. 13, 2021.
- PolitiFact, Hal Turner Radio Show.