This Common Medication Could Save You From Severe COVID, New Study Says

This oral drug is cheap, available, and effective, researchers say.

Every day that you don't become infected with COVID-19 buys experts time to discover the treatments that could someday save your life. In fact, one recent study out of Canada, which has yet to be peer reviewed, found that an anti-inflammatory medication already on the market as a treatment for gout could greatly reduce the rate of hospitalization and death in COVID-19 cases. According to the researchers out of Montreal Heart Institute, colchicine is cheap, orally administered, and has few known side effects. Read on to learn more about this promising treatment, and for other essential COVID news, check out If You Take These OTC Meds, You Have to Stop Before Getting the Vaccine.

The researchers assembled a group of COVID patients with mild illness and at least one underlying condition such as heart disease or diabetes. Half of the group received colchicine and the other half received a placebo for 30 days. Ultimately, they found that the risk of "death or hospitalization due to COVID-19 infection in the 30 days following randomization was lower among the patients who were randomly assigned to receive colchicine than among those who received placebo." Additionally, they reported that the treatment group had fewer cases of pneumonia as well as a reduced need for supplemental oxygen.

The results were even more pronounced when they controlled for subjects who were diagnosed with COVID via PCR test. "When the 93 percent of patients who had a formal diagnosis of COVID-19 are considered, the benefit of colchicine [as defined by reduced rates of hospitalization and death] was more marked (25 percent) and statistically significant," the researchers wrote.

While more research is needed, this could have major implications for those with underlying health conditions. "Given that colchicine is inexpensive, taken by mouth, was generally safe in this study, and does not generally need lab monitoring during use, it shows potential as the first oral drug to treat COVID-19 in the outpatient setting," the researchers said. Not only would this be beneficial to the outcomes of individual patients, it would also free up hospital beds and conserve resources for the most severe COVID cases.

Wondering what other medications may improve your COVID outcome? Read on for more promising treatments that are currently under review, and for essential tips on avoiding COVID, check out These 3 Things Could Prevent Almost All COVID Cases, Study Finds.

1
Xlear Sinus Care

Woman Using Nasal Spray For Her Cold
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According to a study posted on Dec. 21, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, researchers found that an over-the-counter nasal spray known as Xlear Sinus Care may help neutralize COVID in nasal cavities. Though the spray has only been formally tested in vitro trials so far, it was able to greatly reduce the amount of active COVID virus after 25 minutes.

Ingredients of the spray include xylitol—a chemical compound often used as a sweetener—as well as .2 percent grapefruit seed extract (GSE) and .85 percent saline. "Combination therapy with GSE and xylitol may prevent spread of viral respiratory infections not just for SARS-CoV-2 but also for future H1N1 or other viral epidemics. GSE significantly reduces the viral load while xylitol prevents the virus attachment to the core protein on the cell wall," the study authors wrote. And for more on what can reduce your COVID risk, check out These 3 Vitamins Could Save You From Severe COVID, Study Finds.

2
Remdesivir

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According to the Mayo Clinic, the FDA has approved the antiviral drug Remdesivir to treat COVID-19 in adults and children who are 12 years of age and older. Given intravenously, this drug is used to shorten the length of infection in those who have been hospitalized with COVID-19.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) explains that the drug has "demonstrated in vitro activity against SARS-CoV-2" and helped to lower the rate of lung damage in COVID infected rhesus macaque monkeys. And for more on severe coronavirus cases, check out If You've Done This, You're Twice as Likely to Develop Severe COVID.

3
Monoclonal antibody treatments

Two healthcare workers wearing full protective gear care for an intubated patient in the ICU who is suffering from COVID.
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Monoclonal antibody treatments such as Regeneron work by mimicking our own immune response to a COVID threat. According to BBC News, "antibodies physically stick to the coronavirus so they can't get inside the body's cells and they make the virus more 'visible' to the rest of the immune system."

While Regeneron was one of the earliest treatments approved to fight existing COVID cases, researchers have more recently discovered that the drug may work preventatively—meaning before individuals are exposed to the new coronavirus. In one new study conducted by UVA Health, the researchers found that when 186 individuals received the antibody cocktail and were subsequently exposed to COVID, none developed symptomatic cases of COVID. While Regeneron is unlikely to provide long-term preventative protection, it could be beneficial to those who face elevated risk of infection for a short period of time—for example, an individual who is taking care of an infected relative. And for more COVID news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

4
Aspirin

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New research shows that those who take a daily dose of aspirin may experience better COVID outcomes than those who do not. An October study published in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia looked at the medical records of more than 400 coronavirus patients who were hospitalized from March to July as a result of the virus. They found that over 23 percent of those patients were taking a daily low dose of aspirin either shortly before or soon after being admitted to the hospital to manage cardiovascular disease.

Of those hospitalized COVID patients, those who took a daily low dose of aspirin were 43 percent less likely to be put in the intensive care unit (ICU) and 44 percent less likely to be placed on a ventilator. Those same patients were also 47 percent less likely to die from COVID than the hospitalized patients who were not taking aspirin daily. And to avoid contracting COVID in the first place, beware that This Is Where You're Most Likely to Catch COVID Now, New Study Says.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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