A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Minnesota has found that taking metformin, a commonly used Type 2 diabetes medication, shortly after being diagnosed with COVID-19 can significantly reduce the risk of developing long COVID. The study, which was published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, discovered that metformin can decrease the likelihood of experiencing persistent symptoms after COVID-19 infection by approximately 41 percent.
Long COVID refers to the ongoing discomfort experienced by individuals for weeks or even months after recovering from a COVID-19 infection. Symptoms of long COVID include fatigue, shortness of breath, cognitive impairment, headache, chest pain, and joint pain, among others, which can significantly impact a person’s daily life.
To conduct the study, researchers recruited a total of 1,126 participants who agreed to long-term follow-up. All participants were overweight or obese individuals between the ages of 30 and 85 and had experienced COVID-19 symptoms for no more than seven days. They also had no previous known SARS-CoV-2 infection and tested positive for COVID-19 within three days of enrolling in the trial.
In the randomized trial, participants were randomly assigned to either take metformin or a placebo. They were also randomly assigned to receive either ivermectin, fluvoxamine, or a placebo. After 300 days of follow-up, it was found that 10.4 percent of the participants who took the placebo were diagnosed with long COVID, while only 6.3 percent of those who took metformin were diagnosed.
These results indicate that taking metformin can reduce the risk of developing long COVID by approximately 41 percent. Furthermore, individuals who took metformin within three days of experiencing COVID-19 symptoms experienced an even greater reduction in the risk of developing long COVID, with a decrease of 63 percent.
The study also revealed that metformin was effective in reducing the risk of long COVID in individuals infected during the peak period of the three SARS-CoV-2 variants: Alpha, Delta, and Omicron. However, the study did not find any evidence to suggest that ivermectin or fluvoxamine provided protection against long COVID.
Metformin, a medication derived from the French lilac, has been widely used for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes for decades. It is known for its proven clinical efficacy, affordability, and minimal side effects. Researchers believe that metformin could be utilized as a therapeutic drug for outpatients who have contracted COVID-19, as it is readily available worldwide at a low cost and considered safe to use.
Nevertheless, it is vital to note that this trial did not investigate the effectiveness of metformin in preventing COVID-19 among patients requiring emergency treatment or hospitalization, nor did it demonstrate its efficacy in individuals who were already experiencing long COVID.
The study does have certain limitations. Firstly, the sample selection process may have introduced some bias, as the participants may not represent the general population affected by COVID-19 and long COVID. Additionally, the trial excluded low-risk groups for severe COVID-19, such as individuals with a normal body mass index (BMI) and those under the age of 30. Further research is needed to determine if the findings of this study can be applied to these groups.
In conclusion, the study suggests that taking metformin shortly after a COVID-19 diagnosis can substantially reduce the risk of developing long COVID. As more research is conducted in this area, the use of metformin as a potential treatment for long COVID may become more widespread.