Can we take ibuprofen for covid? The question has arisen since the start of the pandemic. Indeed, a year ago, the instruction was to avoid taking anti-inflammatory drugs during a coronavirus infection, because they were suspected of increasing the risk of severe form and death.

But today, these drugs are finally out of the question in a large study by the British health authorities published on May 7, 2021 in the medical journal The Lancet Rheumatology.

Same death rate

This study looked at the health data of 72,179 covid patients admitted to 255 health centers in England, Scotland and Wales between January and August 2020. Of these, 4,211 had taken nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs) – mainly ibuprofen – before hospitalization.

According to the study, the proportion of deaths was similar in patients who took NSAIDs and those who did not (30.4% and 31.3%).

No difference in severity

NSAID use is not associated with increased mortality or severity of covid-19“, concludes the study.

In addition, “at the time of admission to hospital, we observed no significant difference between the two groups in terms of the severity of the patient’s condition“, write the researchers.

Anti-inflammatory drugs used “safely”

We now have clear evidence that NSAIDs can be used safely in patients who have covid-19“, commented lead author of the study, Prof. Ewen Harrison (University of Edinburgh), in a statement.

Reassuring results for all chronically ill patients who “rely on (NSAIDs) to be able to carry out daily activities“, notes the researcher.

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The authors of the study recognize, however, that their work has limitations. Among them, the fact that they do not know for how long the patients had taken NSAIDs, nor if they were taking them for the long term for chronic illnesses or occasionally for transient pain.

Precautionary principle in 2020

The fear around NSAIDs had emerged at the start of the covid pandemic, fueled by the fact that these drugs can worsen infections, especially bacterial, because they lower the effectiveness of the immune system.

Taking anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, cortisone, etc.) could be a factor in worsening the infection“to covid, tweeted in March 2020 the French Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, advising to favor paracetamol in case of fever.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) had remained cautious in recalling that there was currently “no scientific evidence linking ibuprofen to worsening covid-19“.