Diabetes drug helps prevent long COVID

A recent pre-print study from The Lancet suggests that taking the drug Metformin early during a mild to moderate COVID-19 infection could lead to a 42% reduction in long COVID. The drug was tested in a clinical trial across the US called COVID-OUT, which included 1,323 patients aged 30-85 with overweight or obesity, who had documentation of a confirmed COVID-19 infection, had fewer than 7 days of symptoms, had no known prior infection, and joined the study within 3 days of their positive test. The study included monthly follow-up for 300 days and participants indicated whether they received a long COVID diagnosis from a medical doctor, which the researchers confirmed in medical records. The metformin doses were doled out over 14 days. Of those who took metformin, 6.3% developed long COVID, compared to 10.6% among those who took the identical-matched placebo. The risk reduction for metformin was 42% versus the placebo, which was consistent across subgroups, including vaccination status and different COVID-19 variants. Neither ivermectin nor fluvoxamine showed any benefits for preventing long COVID. The study authors caution that more research is needed. Several risk factors for long COVID emerged in the analysis, including 11.1% of the women had a long COVID diagnosis, as compared with 4.9% of the men. Those who had received at least the primary vaccine series had a lower risk of developing long COVID, at 6.6%, as compared with 10.5% among the unvaccinated. Pregnant and lactating people were included in this study, which is important given that pregnant people face higher risks for poor COVID-19 outcomes and are excluded from most non-obstetric clinical trials. The results, although not yet peer-reviewed or published in a journal, are consistent with other recent studies, and have been met with cautious optimism from experts. Going forward, more research is needed to confirm these findings and to test metformin and other potential treatments for long COVID.


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