BY Peter Yim.
On January 14, 2021, the NIH updated its recommendation on the use of ivermectin in COVID-19. It removed its recommendation against the use of ivermectin in COVID-19. However it stated:
“There are insufficient data for the COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel (the Panel) to recommend either for or against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19.”
The “Panel” consists of 47 medical experts and patient advocates. Presumably, recommendations in the Guidelines are endorsed by a vote of the Panel. However, there is ambiguity about voting since the Guidelines state:
“Updates to existing sections that do not affect the rated recommendations are approved by Panel co-chairs without a Panel vote.”
I submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the NIH on January 25 to find out if there was a vote:
“On January 6, 2021, the NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel met to consider updating their recommendation on the use of Ivermectin in COVID-19. Please answer the following question. As of today, has that Panel taken a vote on whether to change its recommendation? (Date Range for Record Search: From 01/06/2021 To 01/25/2021)”
The NIH responded:
“Please be advised that the FOIA is not intended to answer questions, but rather it is meant for the public to request specifically identified and searchable Federal records that are already in existence, i.e. a record cannot be created in response to a FOIA request. Considering this, your request is not deemed a proper FOIA request as it is in the form of a question, and your NIH FOIA case has been administratively closed.”
I rephrased and resubmitted the FOIA request on January 28:
“All updates to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Treatment Guidelines that were endorsed by a vote of the Panel. (Date Range for Record Search: From 01/01/2021 To 01/28/2021)”
There was only one update to the Guidelines in that time period and that update was for the ivermectin recommendation. Therefore, if there was a vote on the ivermectin recommendation, the NIH should provide that update. If there was not a vote, the NIH should state that no record is available.
The NIH did not respond to this request within 20 business days as required by law. I have challenged that non-response by the NIH in federal court.