An apparently anonymous WhatsApp voice in German has circulated widely on social media, fuelling debate on a key issue related to treatment of the new coronavirus.
A female voice claimed that her friend, a doctor at the university hospital in Vienna, had warned her that most patients with severe symptoms of COVID-19 had taken the well-known drug ibuprofen before they came to hospital.
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The message sparked widespread rumours that painkillers like ibuprofen and aspirin accelerate the effects of the virus.
The Medical University of Vienna released a statement declaring that no research had taken place and that the text and voice messages were “fake news”.
This story is far from unique.
The Infectious Diseases Society of Ireland have also dispelled a false rumour that four young people in Cork have suffered more severe effects of coronavirus after taking anti-inflammatory drugs.
But the discussion around the use of ibuprofen during the COVID-19 pandemic has continued.
A recent article in the medical journal, The Lancet, suggested that some drugs, including ibuprofen, might pose a risk for coronavirus patients who suffer from high blood pressure or diabetes.
Then on Saturday, French Health Minister Olivier Veran, himself a qualified neurologist, warned that ibuprofen and other medicines known as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) increase the effects of the new coronavirus.
In a tweet, Veran said that “taking anti-inflammatory drugs [including ibuprofen] …could be a factor in aggravating the infection”.
“In case of fever, take paracetamol. If you are already taking anti-inflammatory drugs or in case of doubt, ask your doctor for advice.”
His suggestion was criticised by some health experts, who argued that there is no public evidence available which links ibuprofen to more adverse effects of the coronavirus.
But Veran’s recommendation came on the same day that the French government published a report, reiterating that “serious adverse effects” had been identified in patients afflicted with COVID-19, linked to the use of NSAIDs.
“As a reminder, the treatment of poorly tolerated fever or pain with COVID19 or any other respiratory virosis is based on paracetamol”.
But Dr Muge Cevik, a researcher at the University of St Andrews Infection and Global Health Division, tweeted that she was “deeply concerned” about the bold statements.
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