Cheap antidepressant shows promise treating early COVID-19

Oct 27, 2021, 3:37 AM | Updated: 3:39 pm
FILE - This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infect...

FILE - This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. According to a study released in The Lancet Global Health on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, Fluvoxamine, a cheap antidepressant, reduced the need for hospitalization among high-risk adults with COVID-19. (NIAID-RML via AP)

(NIAID-RML via AP)

A cheap antidepressant reduced the need for hospitalization among high-risk adults with COVID-19 in a study hunting for existing drugs that could be repurposed to treat coronavirus.

Researchers tested the pill used for depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder because it was known to reduce inflammation and looked promising in smaller studies.

They’ve shared the results with the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which publishes treatment guidelines, and they hope for a World Health Organization recommendation.

“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.”

The pill, called fluvoxamine, would cost $4 for a course of COVID-19 treatment. By comparison, antibody IV treatments cost about $2,000 and Merck’s experimental antiviral pill for COVID-19 is about $700 per course. Some experts predict various treatments eventually will be used in combination to fight the coronavirus.

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.

The results, published Wednesday in the journal Lancet Global Health, were so strong that independent experts monitoring the study recommended stopping it early because the results were clear.

Questions remain about the best dosing, whether lower risk patients might also benefit and whether the pill should be combined with other treatments.

The larger project looked at eight existing drugs to see if they could work against the pandemic virus. The project is still testing a hepatitis drug, but all the others — including metformin, hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin — haven’t panned out.

The cheap generic and Merck’s COVID-19 pill work in different ways and “may be complementary,” said Dr. Paul Sax of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in the study. Earlier this month, Merck asked regulators in the U.S. and Europe to authorize its antiviral pill.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

In this sketch, Ghislaine Maxwell, seated left speaks to her defense attorney Christian Everdell pr...
Associated Press

British woman testifies about grooming by Ghislaine Maxwell

NEW YORK (AP) — A British woman testified Monday that Ghislaine Maxwell pressured her into giving Jeffrey Epstein sexual massages when she was still a teenager, assuring her she would have “fun” with him. The woman — testifying at Maxwell’s sex-abuse trial in New York City using the pseudonym “Kate” to protect her privacy — […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Leaders: Africa’s COVID-19 fight is vital for world security

DIAMNIADIO, Senegal (AP) — Travel restrictions imposed on South Africa and other African nations for telling the world about the omicron variant are hypocritical, harsh and not supported by science, South Africa’s president said Monday, recalling the phrase used by the U.N. chief, who called such measures “travel apartheid.” Speaking at the Dakar International Forum […]
1 day ago
FILE - Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez delivers a speech at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, ...
Associated Press

Spain: PM urges Christmas caution as hospital staff infected

MADRID (AP) — Spain’s prime minister on Monday urged people to “remain prudent” about COVID-19 over the holidays, as Christmas festivities at one Spanish hospital are suspected of infecting dozens of staff. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez told reporters that Spaniards can’t “let their guard down” because the coronavirus continues to spread, despite fewer cases and […]
1 day ago
FILE - In this May 7, 2020, file photo workers wait in line to enter the Tyson Foods pork processin...
Associated Press

Tyson Foods to spend $50M on bonuses at its meat plants

SPRINGDALE, Ark. (AP) — Tyson Foods said Monday that it plans to spend roughly $50 million on year-end bonuses for over 80,000 hourly workers at its meatpacking plants that will give them between $300 and $700 apiece. Those bonuses are on top of wage increases the company has approved at many of its plants as […]
1 day ago
Taliban Fighter Mansoor Zulfiqar, 29, visits the National Museum of Afghanistan, in Kabul, Monday, ...
Associated Press

Afghan museum reopens with Taliban security — and visitors

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The National Museum of Afghanistan is open once again and the Taliban, whose members once smashed their way through the facility destroying irreplaceable pieces of the country’s national heritage, now appear to be among its most enthusiastic visitors. The museum in southwest Kabul, which hosts artifacts from the Paleolithic period to […]
1 day ago
Poland's conservative ruling party leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, left, Hungarian Prime Minister Vikto...
Associated Press

Polish prime minister defends meeting of European populists

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Monday defended a recent meeting of European populist leaders by saying Poland is seeking allies in its challenge of what he called a “centralized Europe.” Morawiecki was reacting to criticism of the meeting hosted Saturday in Warsaw by Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice party. […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Cheap antidepressant shows promise treating early COVID-19