With the participation of 1,100 people in the early stages of “Covid-19”, researchers at Washington University, in St. Louis, are testing the drug “fluvoxamine”, also known as “Luvox”.
And while antidepressants may appear to be an unlikely candidate for fighting “Covid-19”, a small study in November indicated that they may have some success.
It has been known for years that modern antidepressants, known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), have anti-inflammatory properties.
Inflammation plays a major role in infection with the “Covid-19” virus, which leads to complications such as blood clots and swelling of “Covid fingers”.
In order to obtain results within weeks instead of months, which is an important time difference in the time that thousands of people die from the Corona virus every day, researchers conduct the study in an unconventional way.
Researchers are keen to mail medicines to patients’ homes across the country, and patients monitor their health and inform study staff.
Dr Eric Linzi, the lead researcher on the study, says it has gone so well so far, with a small bump being easily overcome.
He added, “I have a funny story about a participant in New Hampshire, where we shipped his study medicine to him, and he called and said he was left in a snow cliff a quarter of a mile from his home.”
Linzi explained that the patient “asked if it was still appropriate to take it, and we said yes, it is okay. I am an expert in clinical trials, and this was a new experience for me.”
Smaller study shows promising results for fluvoxamine
The study began in December, and dozens of people have participated so far. In doing so, the researchers believe they may have results by February.
In the study published in November in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 80 patients took fluvoxamine without any developing low oxygen levels.
Of the 72 patients who took a placebo, 6 people developed low levels of oxygen.
One of the patients who took fluvoxamine was taken to hospital due to dehydration.
Four of the patients who took the placebo were transferred to hospital due to symptoms related to “Covid-19”, and one patient ended up in the intensive care unit, using a ventilator.
“Because of the limitations of the study, these results should be interpreted as generating a hypothesis, and not as evidence of efficacy,” the authors wrote.
For now, Linzi and his team are conducting a larger study because the previous study was too small to reach final conclusions.
An unconventional study
Scientists from the University of Washington are looking for participants who have tested positive for “Covid-19” and have developed symptoms for a week or less.
There are many aspects of the study that are unconventional.
The researchers will not physically examine the patients. Rather, the study medications will be sent to the participants, along with a temperature and blood pressure meter, and a pulse oximeter, which is a device placed on the tip of a finger to measure oxygen levels in the blood.
This new method of clinical trial has already proven effective.
Researchers modeled their study on the basis of the study of Dr. David Bulwer, at the University of Minnesota, who shipped hydroxychloroquine and placebo pills to participants across the United States.
Within weeks, the study revealed that the drug “hydroxychloroquine”, a drug promoted by US President Donald Trump, did not fight “Covid-19”.
“The speed with which this was accomplished is extraordinary,” said Linzi. “We borrowed their technology for our experience, and they work really well.”