What you need to know about Coronavirus and Ibuprofen

Whether it’s a message purporting to be from an Ireland-based doctor or a Facebook post shared among friends, many will recognise the claim that it is dangerous to take ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) if you are at risk of contracting or have already contracted coronavirus.

Unlike some of the wild and wonderful claims about COVID-19 out there, there isn’t a clear-cut answer to this one. Here’s what you need to know:

Where did the claim come from?

The first official to make the claim was French Health Minister Olivier Veran, who said taking the painkiller could “be a factor in aggravating the infection” but advised those already taking the drug to ask their doctor’s advice.

His tweet followed a letter published in the medical journal The Lancet on March 11 which said certain drugs, including ibuprofen, could increase ACE2 receptors on the surface of cells. Covid-19 infects cells through these receptors so could make patients more vulnerable to the virus, they said. The hypothesis had not been tested, however.

On March 17, the authors of the letter clarified it “was expressly formulated as a hypothesis…aimed at scientists with a view to further investigation based on additional patient data”

There were also claims of critically ill young people in the cities of Cork in Ireland and Toulouse in France linked to taking ibuprofen circulating on WhatsApp, both found to be false.

The Infectious Diseases Society of Ireland rebuffed the claim about Cork.

Should we pay attention?

Although there is no published research to prove or disprove the claim, some experts and health authorities have advised to swap paracetamol for ibuprofen if possible, just in case.

However, the World Health Organization recommended on Tuesday that people suffering COVID-19 symptoms avoid taking ibuprofen unless prescribed it by a doctor while they look into this.

Source: The National