Taken Early, Aspirin Might Offer Protection Against Covid-19
Experts say low-dose aspirin might be an underutilized weapon in our battle with the coronavirus
During the first months of the pandemic, back when vaccines were little more than a wishful ambition, the global medical community was desperate for something — anything — that could weaken the mortal grip of severe Covid-19 disease.
Aspirin emerged as an early drug-of-interest.
Covid-19 does its damage primarily via blood clots and inflammation. Aspirin, despite being one of the world’s oldest and cheapest medicines, is a potent blood thinner and anti-inflammatory agent. It can also block clots from forming. It seemed worth a look.
The early findings were promising. One study in the U.S. found that hospitalized Covid-19 patients promptly treated with aspirin were much less likely to need mechanical ventilation or ICU care than those who did not get the drug. Aspirin administration also reduced the risk of death.
There’s reason to believe that aspirin — if taken early enough in the course of infection — could provide life-saving benefits.
When that study came out last October, I spoke with two of its authors. They were optimistic about aspirin’s potential but said more work was needed to back up their findings.
Some of the research that followed seemed to deflate the aspirin balloon. A meta-analysis published last January in the American Journal of Cardiology concluded that aspirin treatment does not reduce Covid-19 mortality. More recently, an NIH-sponsored clinical trial found no evidence that giving aspirin to Covid-19 patients led to better outcomes.
Despite these findings, there’s still reason to believe that aspirin — if taken early enough in the course of infection — could provide life-saving benefits.
The most compelling evidence comes from a group of researchers at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). For a study published earlier this year, the VA group examined health data collected from more than 35,000 people, many…