Study finds ibuprofen doesn’t increase coronavirus death risks

Early on in the pandemic there was controversy over the use of ibuprofen after Olivier Véran, the French Health Minister, advised against it for coronavirus patients, saying it could make them more susceptible to worse infection.

Scientists in the UK launched a review to assess ties to the drug and Covid-19, determining that, at the time, there wasn’t enough evidence to suggest harmful effects of the drug for coronavirus patients.

Now, the Daily Mail reports a study involving one thousand two hundred people has concluded that coronavirus death rates were no higher among people who regularly take the anti-inflammatory.

The UK’s Commission on Human Medicines’ expert working group concluded “There is currently insufficient evidence to establish a link between use of ibuprofen and susceptibility to contracting Covid-19 or the worsening of its symptoms.”

And the results of the new study bear that conclusion out.

For the study, the researchers from the University of Aberdeen, Cardiff University and King’s College London examined data from eight British hospitals at the height of the pandemic.

They compared how the fifty four patients who’d been prescribed regular use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including ibuprofen, naproxen and diclofenac, fared compared to people who were not taking the drugs at all, or only sporadically.

It was clear from their findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, that routine use of non-steroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) was associated with higher Covid-19 mortality.

The authors of the study note that at the time Olivier Véran warned against ibuprofen it wasn’t a totally baseless concern.

NSAIDs are known to increase the expression of receptors on the surfaces of many human cells that SARS-CoV-2 target.

Senior study author Dr Phyo Myint, of the University of Aberdeen, said “It has therefore been postulated that NSAID use could result in a higher viral infective load in the respiratory tract.

“But much of the existing research in this area primarily references respiratory viruses other than COVID-19, such as severe acute respiratory virus (SARS) and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS).

“As a result, the findings of these studies may not be applicable in COVID-19 infection and new research is needed. Our study looked specifically at hospitalized patients with COVID-19 infection in UK hospitals during the peak of the initial wave of the epidemic.”

There had also been concern that corticosteroids could have a similarly negative effect on coronavirus patients.

Doctors abruptly stopped using steroids to try to combat lung inflammation in the sickest patients.

But now the cheap corticosteroid dexamethasone has proven one of the most effective treatments for severely ill coronavirus patients, reducing the risk of death for those on ventilators by a third.

However, the drug may make patients with mild symptoms worse.

As is the case with so many elements of this pandemic, first blush patterns often fall apart upon closer examination in large studies.

In fact, ibuprofen may prove to be another sleeper weapon in doctors’ arsenal against coronavirus.

Separate research is ongoing to determine whether the ibuprofen may actually prevent severe breathing problems associated with Covid-19.

It is hoped a special formulation of the cheap anti-inflammatory drug, to be delivered at a certain point in illness among hospital patients, will reduce severe respiratory illness.

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