Repurposing an Antidepressant to Prevent Hospitalization in COVID-19

Adult, Chicago, Completed Research, Dr. Rado, Drug, Infectious Disease, Northwestern University

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jeffrey Rado

Disease: COVID-19

Research Description: In the fight against COVID-19, safe drugs are needed for patients with mild illness, with the goal of preventing the worsening of symptoms that can lead to serious and life-threatening complications. The symptom progression of COVID-19 infection may vary, with many infected individuals experiencing mild symptoms in the first week, and then developing more severe symptoms (leading to hospitalization, intensive care, mechanical ventilation, etc.) in the second week of illness. Many of these severely ill patients develop lung disease due to excessive inflammatory responses known as the “cytokine storm.” Early evidence has suggested that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), commonly used to treat depression and anxiety, may have anti-inflammatory effects and may reduce the release of cytokines. Fluvoxamine is a low-cost SSRI originally approved for the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder. Fluvoxamine has also been shown to reduce the damaging aspects of the inflammatory response associated with sepsis, a life-threatening condition that arises from the body’s response to an infection. This clinical trial will test fluvoxamine in COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms and in the early phase of their illness who are being monitored at home. This group is at risk of progressing to more serious symptoms in the second week or later. The research team expects that fluvoxamine will prevent or reduce the occurrence of shortness of breath, the need for supplemental oxygen treatment and hospitalization.

Funding Partners: The Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust

CWR funding role: Primary funder


Completed Research

Northwestern University

Watch the story about this drug, its initial study in COVID19 and results to date from 60 Minutes, March 7, 2021:60 Minutes fluvoxamine story 7Mar21