Study Finds Generic Anti-depressant May Reduce Severe COVID-19

Researchers from Brazil announced Wednesday that a low-cost, generic antidepressant may lower the chance of severe COVID-19 illness by nearly one-third in patients at high risk.

A study of almost 1,500 patients in Brazil found that those who took the medicine, known as fluvoxamine, were less likely to develop severe illness and require hospitalization.

The medication, known as Luvox, is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that is commonly used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression. 

However, it can have an effect on inflammation, according to Dr. Angela Reiersen, an associate professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis and co-author of the study, which was published in The Lancet Global Health.

Reierson and colleagues supplied COVID-19 to 741 participants, who received 100 mg of fluvoxamine twice a day for 10 days, whereas 756 subjects received a placebo.

In the fluvoxamine group, 79 individuals (or approximately 11 percent) required treatment in an ER or hospital room, compared to almost 16 percent in the placebo group. It was a 5% reduction in absolute risk and a 32% reduction in relative risk.

Prozac, or fluoxetine, is a similar treatment that is both inexpensive and readily accessible, and the researchers believe it should be researched to see whether it may assist.

Reierson and colleagues acknowledged that it was not flawless research. 

It was carried out in Brazil, and the patients were admitted to the hospital at a greater rate than COVID-19 patients in previous clinical studies.

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