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This cheap drug could stop severe COVID-19, study says

Can an anti-depressant stop severe COVID-19 disease and hospitalization?

SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19.
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.
NIAID-RML via Associated Press

A new study suggests a cheap and available anti-depressant medication can reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 among those at high risk.

Researchers conducted a trial for the drug that included 1,500 COVID-19 patients in Brazil. Those who took the drug — called fluvoxamine — were less likely to suffer from severe COVID-19 or require hospitalization from the coronavirus, according to CNN.

  • The drug is relatively cheap and available in most locations.
  • It goes by the brand name Luvox.
  • The drug is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), which treats obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression, per CNN.

The findings from the study were published in the medical journal The Lancet.

The researchers gave 741 volunteers with a coronavirus infection  fluvoxamine twice a day for 10 days. The other 756 volunteers received a placebo.

  • In total, 79 (so about 11%) of those who got the fluvoxamine needed hospitalization from COVID-19, compared to 16% for those who got the placebo.

Per CNN, the researchers said there will need to be more research to see if the drug will be given to coronavirus patients. The drug costs about $4 for a 10-day supply, which is low compared to antibody treatments, which can cost $2,000, per The Washington Post.

  • “(Fluvoxamine) could be one of our most powerful weapons against the virus,” said study co-author Edward Mills, who works at McMaster University in Ontario, back in August.