Research suggests that millions of people who take statins are less likely to succumb to Covid.
One of the most well-known medications in the world is cholesterol-lowering drugs. They also lower inflammation in blood vessels which has raised questions about whether they might be able to improve outcomes for coronavirus patients.
A large study in PLOS Medicine has shown that statins may be associated with a lower chance of dying from Covid-19. Experts cautioned against the findings and said that they did not prove that statins could reduce deaths.
The study examined the link between drug use and Covid death. The Karolinska Institutet used data from Swedish registers to follow 963,876 Stockholm residents between March 2020 and November 2020.
These results were based upon analyses of data from the cause-of-death register and prescriptions for medication. This information was analysed in relation to factors such as medical conditions.
Viktor Ahlqvist (Department of Global Public Health, Karolinska Institutet) was the co-first author. He stated: Our findings support the continued usage of statins to treat conditions like cardiovascular disease and high blood lipid levels, in accordance with the current recommendations from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Researchers cautioned that randomised research would be required to determine if there is a causal link.
The study has some limitations, including the use prescription data that cannot be checked for individual drug use and the inability to control risk factors like smoking and high BMI.
Tim Chico, an honorary consultant cardiologist and professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Sheffield, did not participate in the study. He said that statins could help Covid patients but it wasn't clear why.
He said that Covid-19 can lead to very serious lung infections, but also inflammation of blood vessels. Statins are known to reduce inflammation in blood vessels and have been debated as a possible treatment for Covid-19.
Although this study doesn't prove that statins can reduce the death rate in Covid-19 patients, it does give some support clues. The study found that statin-prescribed patients were less likely than others to die. This does not prove that statins cause a lower death rate. To prove this, a randomised controlled study is required.
Chico cautioned against taking other drugs that initially appeared promising for Covid patients.
He said that it is important to take these lessons and be able to accurately describe the results. These results don't in any way justify the use of statins to treat Covid-19. There are already effective methods to reduce the risk of death from Covid-19. These include hand washing, vaccination, and mask wearing. We also have good evidence for the use of drugs and techniques (like dexamethasone), in patients with severe Covid-19 infection.