Cheap Diabetic Drug Reduces COVID-19 Viral Load and Rebound

in #science2 months ago

Metformin as a COVID19 Treatment

A phase 3 quadruple blinded RCT (n = 1,323) conducted with three different treatments and a placebo arm at multiple sites over 13 months and published in Clinical Infectious Diseases found that blood glucose medicine metformin significantly reduces COVID19 viral load and rebound by day 10 of the illness as well as the risk of long COVID compared to placebo. After being administered 500 mg on day 1, 1000 mg per day on days 2 - 5 and 1500 mg per day on days 6-14, metformin reduced the risk of severe disease by 55%, hospitalization and death by 58%, and long COVID by 65%. Almost 6% of participants experienced viral rebound in the placebo arm compared to 3.3% of participants administered metformin and 77% of participants in the placebo arm had undetectable viral load by day 10 compared to 86% of participants administered metformin. A prior in vitro study that had motivated this phase 3 RCT and a prior phase 2 RCT found, using lung tissue, that metformin inhibits viral spike protein translation via the mechanistic target of rapamycin. The phase 2 RCT found that metformin cleared the virus a median of 2.3 days faster than the placebo. Prior research on its action against other viruses such as Zikia and Hepatitis C found that it also has a dose dependent ability to inhibit proinflammatory cytokine responses which may explain why participants administered the drug were much less likely to experience severe disease compared to placebo. The COVID-OUT trial also tested Ivermectin as a treatment finding ‘no virologic effect’ but only administered it for 3 days compared to 2 weeks of metformin.

At a cost of about a quarter per 500 mg tablet this generic blood glucose medicine has the potential to drastically reduce the cost of treating COVID19 and other viral diseases and in the wake of Paxlovid’s abysmal performance in a recently published RCT may be preferable given that the latter cost 300x more per dose. Of course, the medical industry being fully captured by the predatory Pharma industry isn’t driven by reducing costs for patients and their providers especially when taxpayers are picking up the tab but by price gouging and profit maximization. Thus, we are unlikely to see metformin receive any widespread use for COVID19 or other acute viral infections even if subsequent studies replicate these findings. Metformin is one of several medicines that have been found to have off-label virologic effects including natural remedies such as virgin coconut oil and Vitamin D, but they cannot be patented and sold at a 1,000% markup.

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