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Coronavirus, the effects of ibuprofen and vitamin C

March 21, 2020
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Coronavirus, the effects of ibuprofen and vitamin C

Against coronavirus everyone can do a lot, staying at home as much as possible and going out only for necessity, avoiding gathering of people, keeping the safe distance of at least one meter between people, better two meters or 6 feet, not touching the face with dirty hands and washing hands several times a day for one minute with soap and water and completing with a solution that contains at least 60% alcohol. In the meantime, the scientific community is working to get more and more information on the new coronavirus. The news follows one another and can often be altered. That is why in these moments it is important to refer only to the official bodies. In the last few days, two reports have spread, one concerning the role of vitamin C and one concerning the role of ibuprofen. Let's try to understand.

Coronavirus and vitamin C

A message is spreading on social media about the role of vitamin C. In particular, it is claimed that high amounts of vitamin C will prevent the infection or will cure the coronavirus if you have already been infected. This is false. In this case, even the university of Harvard Medical school takes the field, indicating this news as fake news. There is no scientific evidence that vitamin C prevents or heals the coronavirus. To date, the only way to prevent infection is, as mentioned, staying at home as much as possible, avoiding touching your face with dirty hands, washing your hands often with soap and water and possibly using a disinfectant solution, maintaining the distance of two meters between people. This does not mean that vitamin C isn’t good for health, on the contrary, it has an essential role in the production of hormones, in the synthesis of collagen and certainly also in supporting the immune system (Kim et al, Immune Netw, 2013) but must be included within a varied and balanced diet. Abusing supplements without a real need could in fact cause an excess of vitamin C with consequences on the kidneys and stomach (Sukara et al, Am J Kidney Dis, 2015).

Coronavirus and ibuprofen

The news is bouncing on the web. It is said that taking ibuprofen, the active substance of many anti-inflammatory drugs, may worsen the symptoms of coronavirus, if the infection has occurred, as we will see, to date, this has no evidence. It all started with a study published a few days ago in The Lancet (Fang et al, 2020) in which it was observed that among people infected with the novel coronavirus, those who had diabetes or hypertension could present complications. The authors of the study observed that both diabetes and hypertension are treated with ACE inhibitor drugs and ARBs. These drugs increase the production of ACE2 enzymes in the body. These enzymes are also used by the virus to attach to target cells. These enzymes are also increased by substances such as ibuprofen. However, what has been observed does not establish a direct and clear connection between ibuprofen and worsening of coronavirus symptoms or also between drugs for diabetes and hypertension and coronavirus symptoms. Clearly, as also underlined by the EMA, the European Medicines Agency, studies will follow shortly to understand any effects. But what is important to underline is that for no reason you should stop the treatment prescribed by your doctor in case of diabetes 1 or 2 or hypertension as this would cause important and severe effects that would put your health at risk. As regards the intake of ibuprofen in do-it-yourself therapies and in the presence of symptoms attributable to coronavirus, WHO declares that there are no contraindications. However, the topic is debated, with some personalities from the world of science and politics, such as dr. Francesco Broccolo, an Italian virologist and university professor, or the French health minister, who advise to prefer, in these cases, paracetamol. In any case, while waiting for science to run its course, the general indication is to ask your doctor in order to have the appropriate therapy.

Again, the first course of action against coronavirus isn’t to stop taking important drugs for health but to avoid gathering of people, maintaining a safe distance between people, washing often the hands with water and soap, using a disinfectant with at least 60% alcohol on hands and surfaces such as door handles, light switches, tables.

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