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Study suggests antidepressant may reduce COVID-19 hospitalizations

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Doctors are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated for COVID-19, but with breakthrough cases, treatments are still needed. According to a new study, an antidepressant may be one of them. 

The drug is called fluvoxamine. It’s prescribed to treat obsessive compulsive and major depressive disorders.

Brazilian researchers randomized close to 1,500 people who came to the emergency room with a COVID-19 infection. Half were given fluvoxamine and the other half were given a placebo pill twice a day for ten days. Results showed only 11% of people who took the drug ended up hospitalized, compared to the 16% not given the treatment. 

“There are some theories and hypotheses in the lab that maybe it affects the inflammatory system, may reduces cytokine storm and maybe it even affects the virus itself,” Dr. Ram Yeleti, chief physician executive at Community Health Network, told News 8. “But, honestly, we don’t have a clear picture of why it’s working. We think we know what it does. But why? We just don’t know yet.”

Yeleti says the drug is also cost-effective. Intravenous treatments can cost upwards of $2,000 — the new Merck drug is $700 per pill, compared to fluvoxamine’s $4.