The Coronavirus may have finally met its match in the form of a very old universally used medicine: Aspirin! Yes it is true. Researchers from Bar Ilan University and the Barzilai Medical Center in Israel have found that aspirin can actually prevent contraction of Covid-19.
If you grew up in America then you probably remember being barraged with TV commercials for numerous different brands of aspirin, each claiming to be better than the other. Then we started getting all of those commercials for different brands of pain relievers which were just ibuprofen. Whether aspirin, ibuprofen or something else, the drug manufacturers keep wanting us to believe that their version of the wheel is better than the last one.
And studies come and go. Remember a few years ago when they had everyone believing that a glass of red wine a day was good for the heart? Then it turned out that it this was not necessarily so and that the alcohol was worse for your health than any benefits. They also once said that taking aspirin every day would prevent heart attacks, but then they said this was not so.
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So can we believe this news about aspirin somehow saving the world from Covid-19 and possibly all types of Coronavirus?
Well apparently it is true that studies have shown that aspirin could modulate the innate and adaptive immune responses helping the human immune system battle some viral infections.
So Israeli researchers hypothesized that pre-infection treatment with low-dose aspirin (75mg) use might have a potential beneficial effect on COVID-19 susceptibility and disease duration. A joint team from Leumit Health Services, Bar-Ilan University, and Barzilai Medical Center conducted an observational epidemiological study, utilizing data from Leumit Health Services, a national health maintenance organization in Israel.
They found that aspirin used to prevent cardiovascular diseases in healthy individuals was associated with a 29% lower likelihood of COVID-19 infection, as compared to aspirin non-users. The proportion of patients treated with aspirin was significantly lower among the COVID-19-positive individuals, as compared to the COVID-19-negative ones. And those subjects who had been treated with aspirin were less associated with the likelihood of COVID-19 infection than those who were not.
The researchers also found a connection between the use o aspirin and the spread of SARS virus.
“This observation of the possible beneficial effect of low doses of aspirin on COVID-19 infection is preliminary but seems very promising,” says Prof. Eli Magen from the Barzilai Medical Center, who led the study.
Study principal investigator Dr. Eugene Merzon, from Leumit Health Services, emphasizes the importance of repeating the study results using larger samples, and including patients from other hospitals and countries, to verify the results.
Dr. Milana Frenkel-Morgenstern, of the Azrieli Faculty of Medicine of Bar-Ilan University: “The present study sought to better understand the potential favorable effects of aspirin in aiding the human immune system battle COVID-19. We intend to investigate a larger cohort of patients and in randomized clinical trials.”
But don’t celebrate the end of mask wearing and social distancing just yet. The results are not definitive and we have a long way to go until we can see if this really will lead to an aspirin based virus prevention medication.