Antifungal and antidepressant medicine may help protect against Covid-19

·1-min read

A new study has claimed that a common antidepressant and antifungal treatment could help treat Covid-19.

New research published in the British Journal of Pharmacology has shown that the antifungal itraconazole, which is used to treat thrush and infected toenails, and the antidepressant fluoxetine, best known under its brand name Prozac, can effectively inhibit the virus that causes Covid-19 in laboratory cells.

The two medications, which are already approved for human use and currently available, both blocked the production of the infectious SARS-CoV-2 virus in cell culture lab tests.

The researchers also discovered that when either medicine was used in combination with the antiviral drug remdesiver, the combinations showed synergistic effects and inhibited the production of SARS-CoV-2 by more than 90 per cent.

The discovery led the study's authors to call the itraconazole–remdesivir and fluoxetine–remdesivir combinations "promising starting points for therapeutic options to control SARS‐CoV‐2 infection and severe progression of Covid‐19."

"A straightforward approach to speed up drug development at lower costs is repurposing," the authors wrote. "Drug treatments were well-tolerated and potently impaired viral replication."

Senior author Ursula Rescher, PhD, of the University of Muenster, in Germany, said, "Preventive vaccination and therapeutic medicines against Covid-19 are both required to effectively combat pandemics caused by emerging zoonotic viruses such as SARS-CoV-2."

It's not the first time research has investigated the impact existing drugs can have on coronavirus. One previous study found the steroid dexamethasone and the arthritis drugs tocilizumab and sarilumab are effective at helping treat Covid-19 while another showed that taking one aspirin tablet a day led to a 29 per cent lower risk of catching the virus.