Oct 27, 2021
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Antidepressant Reduces Risk of Hospitalization and Death with COVID-19

Fluvoxamine is an antidepressant from the group of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. It has anti-inflammatory effects, so in 2020, scientists decided to test whether the drug can improve the prognosis for patients with COVID-19.

Previously, two small studies have shown that prescribing fluvoxamine can reduce the risk of worsening condition in outpatients with COVID-19. However, the National Institutes of Health’s guidelines for the treatment of coronavirus infection indicate that there is insufficient evidence of the drug’s effectiveness. This drug is not yet mentioned in the Russian guidelines.

The new work is an analysis of data from the TOGETHER study, in which 741 patients received fluoxamine and 756 received placebo. Study participants began treatment for COVID-19 at home. They were given drugs or placebo for 10 days twice a day after laboratory confirmation of the diagnosis.

Scientists were interested in the condition of the study participants on the 28th day after the onset of the disease. In the fluvoxamine group, 79 (10.6%) of them required hospitalization or specialized care for more than 6 hours. Among those who received placebo, such treatment was necessary for 119 (15.7%) patients.

The study authors calculated that the relative risk of hospitalization when taking antidepressant in the early stages of the disease was 32% lower. No patient died in the fluvoxamine group, and 12 deaths were among those receiving placebo.

Scientists note that the antidepressants they investigated are relatively cheap and easy to use. They believe the findings could lead to changes in current COVID-19 treatment guidelines.

In an editorial commentary at The Lancet Planetatry Health, Otavio Berwanger of Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo noted that some questions regarding the safety and efficacy of fluvoxamine in COVID-19 remain open. He pointed out that it is necessary to clarify how this drug is combined with other methods of treatment and what is the optimal regimen for prescribing an antidepressant.

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