COVID-19: Antidepressant helps against severe course

Especially at the beginning of the pandemic, drugs that were already approved for other diseases and their possible effect on a corona infection were being examined. The antidepressants fluvoxamine and fluoxetine showed promising results in a first analysis.

It was found that COVID-19 patients who had been treated with the two  antidepressants before they  were admitted had a higher chance of survival in the hospitals and emergency departments. Initial studies also point to a possible effectiveness of the drugs.

Antidepressants with anti-inflammatory properties

Fluvoxamine and  fluoxetine  are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) commonly used to treat  depression  and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The drugs also have anti-inflammatory properties and could therefore also be used in the fight against  COVID-19  .

Several studies point to a possible effect of antidepressants. A total of 83,584 patients were treated for COVID-19 in 87 hospitals between January and September 2020. 3,401 of those affected were already taking different SSRIs for various reasons.

The results show that those affected who were already taking SSRIs were less likely to die from infection with COVID-19. A clear effect was shown with fluoxetine: According to the calculations, the drug reduced the risk of death by 28 percent.

However, since the existing data is difficult to classify, further studies with appropriate comparison groups must now be carried out in order to prove the effectiveness of the antidepressants.

Fluvoxamine and fluoxetine: possibility for developing countries

If the effectiveness of the antidepressants is proven in further studies, both drugs could be used in the fight against COVID-19, especially in developing countries. In contrast to monoclonal antibodies, SSRIs are offered at a low price.

So far, however, the drugs have not been included in the guidelines for the treatment of COVID-19. However, they could certainly be used as a therapeutic measure in the early stages of a corona disease.

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