More Patients Take Anti-Depressant to Beat COVID Symptoms

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“I feel great,” COVID patient Eduardo Veliz of Mission Hills tells the NBC4 I-Team. “It's like nothing ever happened to me.”

Veliz got into it a clinical trial for the anti-depressant Fluvoxamine--sold under the brand name Luvox--in January right after testing positive and experiencing mild symptoms for the virus. 

Fluvoxamine, which costs about $10 for a two-week course, has been used for years to treat depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, but researchers have known it also reduces inflammation in the lungs, often caused by COVID-19 which can lead to serious illness and even be fatal.

Veliz is part of a larger clinical trial of Fluvoxamine now being conducted by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. 

A smaller trial last fall involving just 150 COVID patients showed great promise. None of the patients who were given Fluvoxamine got seriously ill. 

"I believe that a larger trial is only going to hopefully give us some more push and some more confirmation that Fluvoxamine indeed is a promising option," says Dr. Caline Mattar of Washington University, one of the lead researchers in the trial.

It seemed like a promising option for Veliz, even though he still doesn’t know whether he was given a placebo or Fluvoxamine.

"Two or three days after I started taking the pills, the fever had gone away--the body aches were gone. Once I took the medication, everything started going back to normal," Veliz said.

Researchers believe Fluvoxamine could play a critical role in keeping millions of COVID-19 patients who haven’t yet been vaccinated out of the hospital in the coming years. 

"The vaccine-hesitant population will continue to be at risk for COVID, and this drug would be particularly useful for that," says Mattar.

Mattar hopes to enroll 1,100 COVID patients in the current Fluvoxamine trial, but so far--because of declining numbers of new infections--only about 400 volunteers have stepped forward.

If you know of someone with mild COVID symptoms who wants to participate in the current trial, tell them to click here.

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