Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine carried out a study that suggested antidepressant drug fluvoxamine could be effective in the prevention of severe Covid-19 cases that lead to hospitalization.

The findings of the study were published in the journal JAMA.

The researchers intend to explore existing drugs so as to repurpose them to prevent coronavirus infection and its severity.

Earlier Favipiravir, initially designed to treat the Japanese flu, and remdesivir, developed to fight Ebola, was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use.

Fluvoxamine is used to treat anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The drug also helps in reducing inflammation and can further help in reducing Covid-19 severity that is mostly triggered by unregulated inflammation and cytokine storms.

Earlier studies revealed that the drug can reduce inflammation and sepsis in animals by blocking IL-6, a pro-inflammatory cytokine.

Fluvoxamine, however, is not recommended for children as this may increase suicidal thinking and behavior in children and adolescents, especially when taken for psychiatric disorders like major depressive disorder.

To test the efficacy of the drug, the researchers included 152 Covid-19 outpatients (those trying to recover at home) with mild to moderate disease in the St Louis metropolitan area. The average age was 46 years.

The participants were divided into two groups and were given either 100 g fluvoxamine (80 patients) or a placebo (72 patients) thrice a day for 15 days.

After 15 days, none of the participants in the fluvoxamine group reported clinical exacerbation. On the other hand, six out of 72 patients in the placebo group showed exacerbation of symptoms.

The authors further stated that a large study is needed to corroborate their findings.

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