Along with cutting-edge antibody treatments, President Donald Trump is taking common, everyday drugs to battle COVID-19.
According to a memorandum from White House physician Dr. Sean Conley, Trump is taking “zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin, and a daily aspirin.” These surprisingly simple and widely recognized over-the-counter medicines may help reduce the severity of the disease, say experts.
According to the New York Post, Dr. Bruce Farber, an infectious disease expert at North Shore University Hospital, said aspirin is a blood thinner and can prevent potentially deadly clotting, a common complication of COVID-19. Researchers performing autopsies on deceased COVID-19 patients reported blood clotting in many organs, according to The Washington Post.
A Chinese trial found that early treatment with aspirin would “reduce the incidence of severe and critical patients,” according to the Post.
Famotidine, the active ingredient in the heartburn medication Pepcid, reduced deaths in 45% of hospitalized patients in a recent study conducted by Hartford Healthcare. The study also found that patients were 48% less likely to need a ventilator to help them breathe. Cardiologist Dr. Raymond Mackay, the prime investigator of the study, said he found the results “surprising” and theorized that Pepcid may reduce the inflammation response typically caused by COVID-19.
Famotidine can also lower the levels of blood markers that indicate severe disease, according to Medpage Today. It was found to be most effective when used early on with patients and is currently being investigated in a clinical trial combined with other potential COVID-19-fighting drugs, such as hydroxychloroquine and remdesivir.
While zinc has been shown to shorten the severity and duration of the common cold, which is also caused by a virus, there is no hard evidence that it helps treat COVID-19, say researchers. Dr. Ian Tullberg of the University of Colorado says it’s still too early to know if this mineral is effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, but suggests that “zinc is something that will not hurt you, and there may be some benefit.”
A landmark study found an association between low levels of vitamin D and high numbers of COVID-19 cases and mortality rates across 20 European countries. Scientists found that people in countries that have the highest mortality rates from COVID-19, such as Italy and Spain, also had the lowest levels of vitamin D.
Conversely, the highest levels of vitamin D were found in northern European countries like those in the Scandinavian region, which has some of the lowest mortality rates, according to Science Daily.
According to the New York Post, the researchers wrote: “We believe that we can advise vitamin D supplementation to protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection.”
White House advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci recently revealed that he takes vitamin D supplements to keep his immune system healthy.
The hormone melatonin helps regulate sleep patterns. “It’s usually used for sleep and sleep health,” Farber told the Post. Researchers at State University of New York at Buffalo are studying the hormone’s safety and efficacy in COVID-19 patients.
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