COVID-19 Treatment: German researchers say anti-depressant fluoxetine can reduce viral replication in coronavirus patients

COVID-19 Treatment: Study suggests that anti-depressant drug fluoxetine can reduce viral replication in coronavirus patients To find a treatment for COVID-19, researchers and healthcare practitioners around the world are leaving no stone unturned. From the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to the Ebola drug remdesivir, several medications are either under trial or are being used for the symptomatic management of the novel coronavirus disease.  Now researchers at the Institute of Virology and Immunobiology, Germany say that fluoxetine, an antidepressant drug, can suppress the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19, when used at the dose taken for depression treatment - 0.8 µg/mL.  The study is not peer-reviewed yet and is still in the pre-print stage

Myupchar June 15, 2020 16:31:38 IST
COVID-19 Treatment: German researchers say anti-depressant fluoxetine can reduce viral replication in coronavirus patients

To find a treatment for COVID-19 , researchers and healthcare practitioners around the world are leaving no stone unturned. From the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to the Ebola drug remdesivir, several medications are either under trial or are being used for the symptomatic management of the novel coronavirus disease.

Now researchers at the Institute of Virology and Immunobiology, Germany say that fluoxetine, an antidepressant drug, can suppress the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19 , when used at the dose taken for depression treatment: 0.8 µg/mL.

The study is not peer-reviewed yet and is still in the pre-print stage. As per the study, the patent of fluoxetine (more commonly called Prozac) has long since expired and so anybody can make it now. If this drug indeed proves to be effective against the COVID-19 causing virus, it may be made available easily, quickly and at a very reasonable cost.

COVID19 Treatment German researchers say antidepressant fluoxetine can reduce viral replication in <span class=coronavirus patients" width="825" height="500" />

Representational image. Image courtesy: CDC

Fluoxetine

Fluoxetine is an FDA-approved serotonin reuptake inhibitor that is used as oral tablets for the management of conditions like anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder and bulimia nervosa (an eating disorder).

Serotonin is commonly called the happy hormone in the body; low levels of serotonin have been noted in patients with depression. It is also a neurotransmitter, meaning it helps pass signals within brain cells. When a brain cell releases serotonin and it is not taken up by the next cell, the first cell retakes it: serotonin reuptake. However, fluoxetine inhibits this reuptake, letting more brain cells to take up serotonin.

In the case of COVID-19 , however, experts suggest that fluoxetine can suppress cytokine storm - a life-threatening condition in COVID-19 patients.

As per the FDA, fluoxetine has various side effects including an increase in suicidal tendencies in children, anxiety and insomnia, increased bleeding to name a few. Also, no one should take fluoxetine without speaking to a doctor, especially pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Not the first study

There are various studies that suggest the antiviral effects of fluoxetine. This drug has shown effects against enterovirus (causes various diseases in both adults and children), coxsackievirus (causes hand foot and mouth disease and various diseases of the lungs and heart), and dengue virus.

On April 13, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis announced that they were starting a clinical trial to study the efficiency of fluoxetine in the treatment of non-hospitalised COVID-19 patients. The decision was taken on the basis of a previous study done by a group of researchers at the University of Virginia that indicated that fluoxetine reduces the negative effects of inflammation in mice.

Another clinical trial is currently underway to study the effect of fluoxetine in reducing intubation and death in COVID-19 patients. The trial funded by the University of Toledo Health Science Campus, US, will enrol about 2,000 patients. Half of the enrolled patients will get fluoxetine (20 to 60 mg daily from two weeks to two months) and the other half will get the standard treatment.

For more information, read our article on Drugs that are being repurposed for COVID-19 .

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

Updated Date:

also read

Mumbai's COVID-19 addition below 400 for 3rd consecutive day, active tally at 4,744
India

Mumbai's COVID-19 addition below 400 for 3rd consecutive day, active tally at 4,744

The case doubling time is 1,271 days and the average growth rate between 6 and 12 September stood at 0.6 percent, data from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation revealed

Unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely to die from COVID, finds CDC study
science

Unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely to die from COVID, finds CDC study

They are also 4.5 times more likely than the fully vaccinated to get infected and over 10 times more likely to be hospitalized.

Maharashtra logs 3,595 COVID-19 cases, 45 deaths; toll at 1,38,322
India

Maharashtra logs 3,595 COVID-19 cases, 45 deaths; toll at 1,38,322

Maharashtra's COVID-19 recovery rate stands at 97.06 percent, while the fatality rate is 2.12 percent