Antipsychotics, a type of medication that is usually prescribed to treat psychotic disorders, may have a protective effect against COVID-19. That’s according to a new study from the University of Seville, which reports that people who take antipsychotics were less likely to contract the virus and that among those who did, the odds of reaching a severe life-threatening state were lower.
The research is reported in two studies, both led by the Virgen del Rocio University Hospital’s Mental Health Unit. The work involved data on 698 patients at Seville hospital who were treated with antipsychotic medication.
The researchers note that COVID-19 cases among patients taking antipsychotics is ‘lower than expected.’ That doesn’t mean there haven’t been any infections reported, but in instances where there have been COVID-19 cases, people taking antipsychotics were found to be more likely to develop a mild form of the disease.
This may be due to the genes that are downregulated by antipsychotics — these are many of the same genes, the researchers note, that COVID-19 alters. The second study’s lead author Professor Crespo-Facorro explained:
In a striking way, we have shown how antipsychotics reduce the activation of genes involved in many of the inflammatory and immunological pathways associated with the severity of Covid-19 infection. Although this finding requires replication, the discovery could be very significant because the treatment of Covid-19 with drugs originally indicated for unrelated clinical situations, that is to say, drug repositioning, has been shown to be an interesting source of effective treatments for Covid-19 patients.