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No evidence ibuprofen makes Covid-19 worse, say experts

A post widely shared on Facebook in South Africa claims that ibuprofen makes the new coronavirus multiply faster.

It says “doctors from university of Vienna” are blaming the high Covid-19 death rate in Italy on patients taking “Advil/ibuprofen/mypaid/myprodol to control fever”. 

Ibuprofen is a common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used as a painkiller. It’s the active drug in brands such as Advil, Nurofen, Myprodol and Gen-Payne.  

The post tells people with a fever to take “Tylenol or paracetamol” only. Paracetamol or acetaminophen is another common painkiller, but it’s not an anti-inflammatory. 

Similar claims warning against ibuprofen in the treatment of Covid-19 have been spreading on social media. Are they correct?

Universities in Vienna debunk message

Both the Medical University of Vienna and the University of Vienna in Austria have dismissed the claim.

On 14 March 2020 the medical university released a statement saying it “expressly points out that this is fake news that is not related to the MedUni Vienna”. 

The same day, the University of Vienna tweeted, in German: “News is currently being distributed on social media channels about ibuprofen and an alleged intensification of COVID19 symptoms. This is fake news! There are no such studies at the University of Vienna.”

Ibuprofen and Covid-19

The World Health Organization has said there isn't enough evidence against using ibuprofen in the treatment of Covid-19.

“Based on currently available information, WHO does not recommend against the use of ibuprofen,” the WHO tweeted on 18 March.

The European Medicines Agency, or EMA, issued a statement on the use of “non-steroidal anti-inflammatories for Covid-19” on 18 March. They said that there was “no scientific evidence establishing a link between ibuprofen and worsening of Covid-19”. 

“There is currently no reason for patients taking ibuprofen to interrupt their treatment, based on the above. This is particularly important for patients taking ibuprofen or other [nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory] medicines for chronic diseases.” – Taryn Willows


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