A new study has that found that a popular and cheap antidepressant slashed the risk of unvaccinated COVID patients requiring hospitalisation by one third.
An antidepressant to treat COVID
The drug in question, Fluvoxamine—but prescribed in the UK under the name Faverin—is part of a group of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. They are prescribed to about 70 million Brits every year and cost only 29p per tablet.
For the purpose of the research, the pill was trialled on 741 people who had contracted the virus within seven days. All of the COVID patients had underlying medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure. All patients were given a daily dose of two pills for 10 days.
In the end, data collected found that out of those who received the medication, only 10.6% required hospitalisation compared to the 15.7% who were in the placebo group. The antidepressant was thus responsible for cutting the risk of requiring intensive medical attention by 32%. Dr Gilmar Reis, a cardiologist from Belo Horizonte hospital in Brazil and co-principal investigator of the study, explained:
Our results are consistent with earlier, smaller trials. Given fluvoxamine’s safety, tolerability, ease of use, low cost, and widespread availability, these findings may have an important influence on national and international guidelines on clinical management of COVID.
A cheap and effective temporary solution
Additionally, researchers also said that this could be used as an economical alternative to treating COVID-19 in poorer countries that do not yet have access to mass vaccination. One scientist from McMaster University in Canada, Dr. Edward Mills, corroborated this claim by saying that:
Identifying inexpensive, widely available, and effective therapies against Covid is of great importance, and repurposing existing medications that are widely available and have well-understood safety profiles is of particular interest.