Does common medication reduce risk of long COVID?

In the ever-evolving landscape of COVID-19 news, one recent study has caught the attention of experts and offers a glimmer of hope for those suffering from long COVID. The study, published in The Lancet, suggests that the widely-used diabetes drug, metformin, may reduce the risk of developing long COVID after a COVID-19 infection.

Long COVID, also known as post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), is a condition where symptoms of the virus persist for an extended period of time, sometimes lasting months or even years. These symptoms can include chronic pain, brain fog, shortness of breath, chest pain, and intense fatigue, among others.

The study examined 1,431 participants who were considered overweight or obese and had tested positive for COVID-19. Some participants were given metformin, while others were given a placebo. The results showed that those who took metformin during an acute COVID-19 infection had a 63% lower risk of developing long COVID if they started taking the drug within the first four days of infection. The risk was reduced by 42% for those who started taking metformin after four days.

Metformin's potential effectiveness in reducing long COVID risk is believed to be due to its antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antithrombotic properties. These properties may help reduce clotting, protein production, and inflammation, which are factors associated with long COVID.

However, there are some limitations to the study. The symptom tracking was self-reported, which introduces the possibility of human error. Additionally, not all participants continued to report their symptoms, and the researchers acknowledged that there may be selection bias in the study population. Furthermore, the study only looked at a specific high-risk group, so it's unclear if the results would apply to the broader population.

Experts caution that further research is needed to confirm these findings and determine the effectiveness of metformin in adults with previous infections and normal body mass index. They also emphasize the importance of not relying solely on one study and recommend waiting for more research before making any treatment decisions.

While the study with metformin shows promise, other methods, such as using paxlovid, are also being studied as potential treatments for long COVID. As the condition is still relatively new, more research is needed to determine the best approaches to treatment.

In the meantime, the best way to prevent long COVID is to take precautions to avoid getting infected in the first place. This includes washing hands frequently, wearing masks in public settings, and getting tested and staying home if feeling unwell.

Overall, while the study on metformin is encouraging, it is important to approach these findings with caution and wait for further research to validate the results.


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