UF Health doctors look into allergy medications that could prevent catching COVID-19

Published: Dec. 4, 2020 at 6:14 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Antihistamines are typically used to treat allergies but University of Florida Health researchers may have found a new use. Researchers have found a connection between over the counter and prescription antihistamines and COVID 19 infection rates.

Millions of americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19 but some antihistamines could lessen the chances of catching the virus.

“There was kind of an ‘AHA!’ moment when we saw the strength of the association between usage of these particular drugs and your likely hood of having a positive SARS-COV2 test,” said UF Immunologist/Associate Professor, David Ostrov.”

SARS-COV2 is the virus that attacks cells and causes COVID-19. Prescription drugs, Hydroxyzine and Azelastine and over the counter drug, Diphenhydramine, also known as Benadryl, may interfere with the virus.

Dr. Ostrov says it may be helpful to combine drugs for a better result.

“There are already conversations with people in Scotland and people in Michigan and We’re also interested in combining the antihistamines that we’ve identified with other drugs that have activity against the virus that causes COVID.”

Because of the urgency of the Coronavirus, doctors say the antihistamine candidates could proceed directly to human clinical trials.

“In a normal situation, we would take this data and the next step would be animal models,” added Ostrov.”

Dr. Leah Reznikov said the researchers’ goal is to reach out to other clinicians and collaborate to find more answers.

“We need to interpret the data with caution and that clinical trials need to performed in order to make a call whether or not they will be beneficial on humans,” said Reznikov.

Conducting extensive trials with other clinicians is next on their agenda.

“Depending upon the outcome of those trials there would be data indicating that antihistamines have potential for positive impact or their not,” added Dr. Reznikov.

Although drugs like Benedryl are easily accessible, doctors stressed the importance of safety.

“Definitely don’t misuse or abuse them, they’re meant for people who have allergies.”

While the research is extensive, many trials are still underway.

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