Coronavirus and ibuprofen: Separating fact from fiction

World Health Organisation spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a press conference in Geneva that ibuprofen - commonly sold as Nurofen - is being investigated after reports it could make symptoms worse.

People who may have the coronavirus should not be using NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen, health officials are warning. The French Minister of Health Olivier Veran announced this on Twitter.

Asked about the study, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told reporters in Geneva the United Nations health agency's experts were "looking into this to give further guidance".

"We recommend paracetamol, not ibuprofen in self-medication, " Lindmeier said.

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However, he also said the vast majority of diagnosed patients have mild to moderate symptoms and do not need hospitalization. Globally, the coronavirus has infected over 89,000 people, and killed more than 3,000, about 90% of whom are in China.

He added that if ibuprofen had been "prescribed by the healthcare professionals, then, of course, that's up to them". "There is a good reason to avoid ibuprofen as it may exacerbate acute kidney injury brought on by any severe illness, including severe COVID-19 disease", said Rupert Beale, a group leader in Cell Biology of Infection at the UK's Francis Crick Institute (via CNN). In case of fever, take paracetamol.

He stressed that patients already being treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, should "ask advice from your doctor".

According to the newspaper Le Monde, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can lead to serious complications even in young people. Prof Ian Jones, a virologist at the University of Reading reportedly said that there is strong evidence for ibuprofen aggravating the situation.

  • Ismael Montgomery