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Doctors test popular anti-depressant to see if it fights off Covid-19

January 12, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 51.4%. 2 min read.

Doctors are running a clinical trial to see if a popular anti-depressant might keep someone from becoming severely ill with Covid-19.

The researchers at Washington University of St. Louis are recruiting 1,100 people in the beginning stages of Covid-19 to test out the drug fluvoxamine, also known as Luvox.

While an anti-depressant may seem like an unlikely candidate to fight Covid-19, a small study in November indicated it might have some success, and it's been known for years that modern anti-depressants, called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, have anti-inflammatory properties.

In order to get results in weeks instead of months -- an important time difference while thousands are dying of Covid-19 every day - researchers are conducting the study in an unorthodox way.

They're mailing the medicine to patients' homes around the country, and patients will monitor their health and report back to study staff, instead of having patients go to the researchers.

We shipped him the study medication, and he called saying it got left in a snow drift a quarter mile from his house," said Dr. Eric Lenze, the study's principal investigator.

In the study published in November in the Journal of the American Medical Association, among 80 patients took fluvoxamine, none developed low oxygen levels.

An unorthodox study

The Washington University researchers are looking for participants who have tested positive for Covid-19 and have had symptoms for a week or less.

Instead, along with the study drugs, the researchers send the participants a thermometer, blood pressure cuff, and pulse oximeter, a device placed on the fingertip to measure blood oxygen levels.

Patients record their measurements on the study's website, and research staff call patients daily during the early part of the trial.

The Washington University researchers modeled their study on one done this spring by Dr. David Boulware at the University of Minnesota, who shipped hydroxychloroquine and placebo pills to participants all over the US.

Within a matter of weeks, the study revealed that hydroxychloroquine, a drug hyped by President Trump, didn't work against Covid-19.

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