29p pill reduces unvaccinated Covid hospitalisations by a third, study finds
A cheap antidepressant has been shown to reduce the need for hospitalisations among unvaccinated adults with Covid-19.
The pill, which is available on prescription in the UK, has anti-inflammatory abilities that can calm down the immune system.
Researchers tested the antidepressant – known as Fluvoxamine – 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.
Fluvoxamine works by boosting the amount of serotonin in the brain, which can help to boost someone’s mood.
The researchers suggested the treatment could be used in developing nations with little access to vaccines because it’s cheap and could give extra protection.
They shared the results with the US National Institutes of Health, which publishes treatment guidelines, and they hope for a World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation.
‘If WHO recommends this, you will see it widely taken up,’ said study co-author Dr. Edward Mills of McMaster University in Canada.
‘We hope it will lead to a lot of lives saved.’