Latest Study Shows Promising Results on Metformin’s Efficacy against Long COVID

Long COVID affects millions of people, and preventing long COVID through a treatment like metformin could prevent significant disruptions in people’s lives,” said lead author Carolyn Bramante, MD, an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Minnesota.

The great news was shared on Twitter by Eric Topol, an American scientist, cardiologist, and author. He is also the founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute and editor-in-chief of Medscape, sister site of WebMD for healthcare professionals.

Photo: YouTube/NewsNation

Topol was not involved in the study, but he categorically called the COVID-OUT clinical trial a “breakthrough” in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, which has now caused the death of over 6.8 million people.

In his newsletter Ground Truths, Topol wrote, “Until now the only way we knew that Long Covid could be prevented was to not get Covid. That’s still the case. But a new randomized, placebo-controlled trial of metformin has yielded exciting results—the first drug to be shown to help prevent Long Covid.”

The trial was conducted between January 2021 and February 2022, involving 1,323 participants who were diagnosed with mild-to-moderate Covid-19. Bramante and her colleagues decided to test 3 oral medications: Metformin (an inexpensive drug used to treat type-2 diabetes and gestational diabetes); Ivermectin (a drug for treating parasitic worm infections); and fluvoxamine (a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor that’s used for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression).

Photo: YouTube/NewsNation

Patients aged 30-85 years old who were overweight or obese were also included in the study. Everyone had records of a confirmed COVID-19 infection with fewer than seven days of symptoms and with no known infection prior to their participation. They also joined the clinical trial within 3 days of their positive COVID 19 test results.

During the trial, the participants were assigned to two weeks of Metformin or a placebo in random. The pre-packaged Metformin were given over 14 days:

  • Day 1: 500 milligrams
  • Day 2 up to 4: 500 milligrams twice a day
  • Day 5 up to 9: 500 milligrams in the morning and 1,000 milligrams in the evening

Topol was very happy to share on Twitter about the results.

He further stated in Ground Truths, “There are no other adequately sized or rigorous trials that have evaluated metformin to date. So the question is, without an independent replication, whether this trial’s data should be considered sufficient to now recommend metformin in clinical practice. My view is yes, since the risk of side effects for 2 weeks of metformin is near zero (from both the trial itself and the huge experience with metformin over decades for chronic use) and the cost is remarkably low, in fact as low as $1-2 dollars for the 2 week course.”

Though, of course, the study authors have made recommendations for more research. The COVID-OUT clinical trial, in spite of its current findings, has not yet determined if Metformin would be effective in preventing Long Covid if taken at the time of an emergency consultation, hospitalization, or if it could also treat people who already have Long Covid. What they hope is that there would be an urgent confirmation so that the diabetes drug could soon be part of the world’s battle against COVID 19.

On the other hand, Ivermectin and Fluvoxamine showed no benefits in the prevention of Long Covid.

The findings of this study has been published as a preprint with the Lancet, and now awaiting peer review.

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