Take paracetamol instead of ibuprofen for viral infections, study claims

Ibuprofen may not be as effective against COVID-19 as paracetamol, according to a study from the U.S.

By Jack Walker

As the number of cases of Coronavirus continues to rise, questions have been raised about whether people should use anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen to treat the disease.

A study from the United States originally published in 2009 has resurfaced online.

It claimed ibuprofen and similar non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) inhibit the production of cells that the body creates to defeat viral infections.

The study was conducted by Simona Bancos, Matthew P. Bernard, David J. Topham and Richard P. Phipps of University of Rochester, New York.

It said: “The implications of this research are that the use of widely available NSAIDs after infection or vaccination may lower host defen[c]e.”

A graph showing a lower number of antibody-producing cells in samples taken from patients who had taken ibuprofen for seven days (right bars) versus patients who had not taken ibuprofen at all (left bars). Taken from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2693360/pdf/nihms103324.pdf

The NHS says that there is no strong evidence that ibuprofen would be counter-effective against COVID-19.

The French Health Minister, Olivier Véran, has urged people in France not to take ibuprofen or other NSAIDs.

Véran is also a qualified doctor and tweeted the following:

Translation:⚠️#COVID-19 | Taking anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, cortisone,…) could be an aggravating factor of the infection. If you have a fever, take paracetamol. If you are already on anti-inflammatory drugs or in doubt, ask your doctor for advice.

Despite this advice, Reckitt Benckiser (RB), the company that makes Nurofen, which is an NSAID, has issued a statement to reassure people.

It said: “Appropriate use of ibuprofen and paracetamol is still currently being recommended by most European health authorities including NHS as part of the symptomatic treatment of COVID-19.

“RB is not aware of any evidence that ibuprofen adversely impacts the outcome in patients suffering from COVID-19 infection.”

Leeds City Council has so far refused to issue advice, saying that people who are concerned should seek advice from GPs and other qualified medical professionals.

Symptoms of coronavirus include a cough, high temperature and a fever.

If you are worried about your symptoms, use the NHS 111 online service here or call 111.

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