According to a study published in BMC Medicine, there is a suggestion that common anti-depressants, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), may have a preventive effect against COVID-19 infection. The research was based on infection trends observed among over 5,600 mental health care patients in the United Kingdom from April to December 2020.
The study found that mental health patients who had been prescribed SSRIs in the previous 90 days had a nearly 40% reduced likelihood of testing positive for COVID-19. The Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota reported this finding.
The research also revealed that approximately 27.7% of COVID-19-negative patients had taken at least one antidepressant medication within the 90 days preceding their admission to a mental health care facility, compared to just over 16% of COVID-19-positive patients.
While SSRIs such as fluvoxamine (Luvox) and fluoxetine (Prozac) have been studied by various groups during the pandemic, their effectiveness in protecting against or treating the virus has yielded mixed results, as noted by CIDRAP.
Nevertheless, the study’s lead author, Oleg Glebov of King’s College London, emphasized the potential clinical benefit of SSRIs in COVID-19 infection. He called for further research, stating that affordable, well-characterized, and readily available drugs like antidepressants could potentially contribute to the containment of COVID-19 transmission.