The test group for the study was 1,500 immunocompromised people in Brazil who had been recently infected with COVID-19 and were in the high-risk category for serious illness. Half the group took fluvoxamine at home for 10 days, while the rest received a placebo.
Among participants who received the antidepressant (100 mg twice daily for 10 days), 11% needed hospitalization or extended medical care, compared to 16% of those who received a placebo – marking a 32% decrease in relative risk.
The promising results could be a boon in lower-income nations, where vaccine distribution has not been as swift as it has in wealthier countries and existing COVID treatments remain too expensive for the general population.
“We hope it will lead to a lot of lives saved,” Dr. Edward Mills, who helped lead the research, told the Associated Press.
Questions remain, however, about the proper dosage amount of the antidepressant for COVID symptoms. Researchers will also continue studying the efficacy of Fluvoxamine mixed with other generic and lower-cost treatments. Researchers added that further evidence was needed to establish its benefit in vaccinated people, as most of the study’s participants were unvaccinated.
The researchers have shared their results with the US National Institutes of Health and hope to also receive a recommendation from the World Health Organization (WHO) for Fluvoxamine treatment.