Some Chinese doctors now believe the diabetes drug metformin is a “wonder drug” with regards to COVID-19 treatment.
A study coming out of Wuhan, China analyzed the data of 104 COVID-19 patients taking metformin for diabetes and 179 COVID-19 patients with a the same illness severity who were not taking metformin. Only three of the patients taking metformin died, whereas 22 of the patients who were not taking metformin died. The results seem to help confirm the results of a recent University of Minnesota study.
The NHS in the United Kingdom is already using metformin for COVID-19 and the drug is also seeing trials for its use as a breast cancer and heart disease treatment.
“It’s a very powerful treatment but it’s been slow to catch on,” said Suzy Birkett, who believes the drug has helped her breast cancer.
The drug may have been slow to catch on because of its cost. It costs about eight cents per pill.
“Who’s going to pay for big trials for regulatory approval when there is no profit at the end? Metformin is dirt cheap,” Birkett said.
The drug appears to reduce inflammation, which may be how it lowers the COVID-19 death rate. Many people end up dying from COVID-19 because of an immune system overreaction known as cytokine release syndrome, which creates a potentially lethal runaway inflammation response. Metformin may help ease this inflammation response.
It is thought that metformin may be able to treat cancers by reducing cancer cells’ sugar supply, which slows or stops their growth.
It is also thought that metformin may have anti-aging properties because it can slow down mitochondrial metabolism.
“Mitochondrial activity is critical in aging and if you can turn down mitochondrial metabolism you can increase lifespan,” said Salford University’s Michael Lisanti.
Studies have even found that the drug can help people lose weight even if they don’t have diabetes. This could help reduce COVID-19 death rates since obese and overweight people have a higher risk of serious complications or death from the disease.
Over 10.5 million cases of the disease have been reported in over 188 countries and territories. Over 512,000 deaths from the disease have been reported and over 5.38 million people have recovered from the disease. Educational facilities have been closed in 172 countries, affecting about 98.5 percent of the planet’s student population.