Fluvoxamine may reduce risk of hospitalisation due to Covid-19 by 30%: Study
Fluvoxamine, a drug which is used to treat mental health conditions such as depression and obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD), may reduce by up to 30 per cent, hospitalisation in high-risk cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), according to a study published in The Lancet Global Health journal. The research, which arrived at the said conclusion, was conducted between January 15 and August 6 this year.
For this exercise, researchers used fluvoxamine to treat 739 patients of Covid-19 from Brazil, while another 733 patients received a placebo (during clinical trials, one group of volunteers receives the drug that is being tested, while the other receives a fake drug, or placebo, which they think is real. This is done to compare the effect of the drug with that of the placebo). Further, every patient who was administered fluvoxamine was tracked for 28 days to check on their health, and to see if they still needed hospitalisation.
The study found that in case of fluvoxamine, the number of hospital admissions came down by about 30 per cent as compared to the corresponding figures for the placebo. Also, among patients taking all their drugs, the reduction in hospitalisation was recorded at nearly 65 per cent.
Speaking on the research, its co-author Angela Reiersen, an associate professor at the Washington University said, “Fluvoxamine may reduce the production of inflammatory molecules known as cytokines, that can be triggered by SARS-CoV-2, the Covid-19 causing virus.” Reiersen, however, also acknowledged some limitations in the study, including the drug’s absence, despite its wide availability, from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Essential Medicines List.
Fluvoxamine, due to its anti-inflammatory properties, was selected for this exercise. During the early days of the pandemic, it was identified for its potential to reduce the cytokine storm among coronavirus patients. Cytokine storms, which are severe immune responses to Covid-19, can cause lethal damage to organs.
(With PTI inputs)