Several recent studies have found that common drugs for depression, alcoholism, and inflammation may help treat COVID-19.
In a study published in JAMA Network Open, UCSF researchers found that people taking a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), particularly fluoxetine, were much less likely to die of COVID-19 than a matched control group.
In the study, the team analyzed information from almost 500,000 patients across the U.S.
The results showed that patients taking fluoxetine were 28% less likely to die; those taking either fluoxetine or another SSRI called fluvoxamine were 26% less likely to die.
The entire group of patients taking any kind of SSRI was 8% less likely to die than the matched patient controls.
Though the effects are smaller than those found in recent clinical trials of new antivirals developed by Pfizer and Merck, the researchers say that more treatment options are still needed to help bring the pandemic to an end.
In another study published in PLOS ONE, Harvard researchers found a well-known and widely available drug called disulfiram for alcoholism may work as a possible treatment for COVID-19.
They found patients taking disulfiram for alcoholism were less likely to become infected with SARS-CoV-2, and those who did get infected were less likely to die from COVID-19 than those not taking the drug.
In the study, the team used computational techniques to analyze a large database of clinical records from the national Veterans Affairs health care system.
They found veterans taking disulfiram had a 34% lower incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection than those who weren’t. Moreover, no one on disulfiram who was infected with the virus died, compared with 3% of those infected and not on the drug.
The findings suggest that disulfiram not only reduces the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection, but may actually reduce the number of deaths.
In a recent study published in Emergent Materials, Alberta researchers found common anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin can help treat the most harmful outcomes of COVID-19.
Most people infected with SARS-CoV-2 recover without serious symptoms. However, some patients develop inflammation in the lungs, causing coughing and shortness of breath, and a few develop hyper inflammation that can lead to organ failure and death.
In the study, the team repurposed existing drugs and use them to reduce or prevent the inflammation that is the cause of mortality.
The team suggested that these drugs might be useful later if hyper inflammation takes over.
They pointed out that these drugs may have fewer side effects than other front-runner COVID-19 treatments such as remdesivir and dexamethasone.
If you care about COVID, please read studies about heart problem linked to 5 times higher death risk in COVID-19, and findings of health problems linked to worse COVID-19 outcomes.
For more information about COVID, please see recent studies about common arthritis drug that may help reduce COVID-19 death, and results showing that this existing drug may help treat COVID-19.
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