In early 2021, American researchers from Harvard Medical School and Italian scientists from the Department of Neurosciences at the University of Verona began investigating medical findings suggesting that Disulfiram, an alcoholism medication, may inhibit the symptoms and development of Covid-19. The information was first introduced and documented from results about Veterans prescribed Disulfiram managing their alcoholism.
How Well Known is Disulfiram?
Harvard Medical School took the initiative to complete an observational study and now has promising results. According to the study, patients taking Disulfiram for alcoholism had a decreased risk of infection from SARS-CoV-2. In addition, those diagnosed with COVID-19 had fewer symptoms and a reduced risk of death from COVID-19. The results are good, but further clinical testing is necessary to uncover how the drug might inhibit SARS-CoV-2. Disulfiram is better known by its brand name Antabuse. It is a long-standing drug that was approved for use in the 1940s. Most people understand that alcoholics often need medications to assist their recovery from alcoholism. Antabuse works by blocking the effects of alcohol. Still, it is not that simple. Antabuse will cause a severe reaction when the person ingests alcohol while on it. The symptoms cause swelling and redness in the face and extremities.
How Does Disulfiram Help For Covid-19?
It is believed that Disulfiram interferes with an enzyme required for the virus to sustain itself or replicate and make the person more ill. The enzyme is a protein involved in hyper inflammation, which the therapeutic qualities of Disulfiram may also inhibit. The insight on this discovery could prove helpful against SARS-CoV-2 if Disulfiram’s effect against the virus is confirmed. Harvard Medical School published the details of the study and vital information that is hopeful:
The researchers used computational techniques to analyze a large database of clinical records from the national Veterans Affairs health care system. The analysis included 944,127 veterans who had at least one SARS-CoV-2 test between February 2020 and February 2021; of these, 2,233 had been prescribed Disulfiram for alcoholism. Veterans taking Disulfiram had a 34 percent lower incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection than those who weren’t. Moreover, no one on Disulfiram who was infected with the virus died, compared with 3 percent of those infected and not on the drug. (Harvard Medical School)
What Do the Alcoholism Experts Say About Disulfiram as Antabuse?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism explains how long the drug disulfiram as Antabuse has been used. In addition, they explain the mechanisms of Antabuse and symptoms that occur if someone consumes alcohol on it.
In 1949, Disulfiram became the first drug approved to treat alcoholism. The drug works by increasing the concentration of acetaldehyde. This toxic byproduct occurs when alcohol is broken down in the body. Excess amounts of this byproduct cause unpleasant symptoms, such as nausea and flushing of the skin. The anticipation of these effects can help some people avoid drinking while taking Disulfiram. (NIAAA)
When Will the Results of the Research be Known?
The National Institutes of Health are estimating the research to be completed by April of 2022. The details of the study explain the chemical processes and what they hope to uncover.
Disulfiram may have both antiviral (inhibiting viral replication via blocking the Mpro protease and zinc ejection) and anti-inflammatory effects (via inhibition of NF-kB-induced and NLRP inflammasome-induced cytokine release) on SARS-CoV-2. (NIH)
What Will Happen if Antabuse (Disulfiram) Curbs Covid-19?
If the study and clinical research confirm that Disulfiram helps thwart and potentially end Covid-19, there will be an increase in diagnoses of alcohol use disorders, also called alcoholism. Antabuse cannot be taken if a person plans to drink. This could reveal vast numbers of ‘closet’ or ‘functioning alcoholics’ who will be put to the test and not allowed to drink. Alcoholism is a progressive disease that is often hidden. When people do not have outward consequences such as DUI’s, or employment troubles, it is usually their health that will fail. Although there is no cure for alcoholism, it can be overcome with treatment, behavioral therapy, and emotional support.