A new study that centered its focus on finding existing drugs that could be repurposed to treat coronavirus, found an antidepressant effective in treating early COVID-19 symptoms.
The pill, called fluvoxamine, would cost just $4 for a course of COVID-19 treatment, as opposed to the whopping $2,000 IV treatments. Researchers tested the pill used for depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder because it was known to reduce inflammation and looked promising in smaller studies.
“If WHO recommends this, you will see it widely taken up,” said study co-author Dr. Edward Mills of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, adding that many poor nations have the drug readily available. “We hope it will lead to a lot of lives saved.”
Researchers tested the antidepressant in nearly 1,500 Brazilians recently infected with coronavirus who were at risk of severe illness because of other health problems, such as diabetes. About half took the antidepressant at home for 10 days, the rest got dummy pills. They were tracked for four weeks to see who landed in the hospital or spent extended time in an emergency room when hospitals were full. In the group that took the drug, 11% needed hospitalization or an extended ER stay, compared to 16% of those on dummy pills.