COVID-19 virus

COVID-OUT Clinical Trial Results Announced 

  • Metformin, an inexpensive diabetes medication, proved superior to other existing medications in treating COVID-19 infection.
  • Metformin reduced serious outcomes for COVID-19 by 42% and over 50% when treated within 4 days of symptoms.
  • Neither ivermectin nor a low dose of fluvoxamine improved COVID outcomes.
  • More information on the COVID-OUT  and Media Resources pages
  • COVID-19 has spread around the world causing high mortality and suffering, as well as significant economic impacts.
  • Over 6.4 million people worldwide have died of the virus, with the United States having the highest number of deaths and infections.
  • Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 have been approved, but widespread vaccination will likely take significant time.
  • Treatments are needed now to reduce the impact of infection.
  • The Parsemus Foundation supported the use of simple, inexpensive therapies for COVID-19 using medications that are already available and proven safe.
  • The foundation supported enrollment efforts for several clinical trials of drugs for COVID-19 treatment, including the COVID-OUT study.

Project Topics

Repurposing existing medications for treatment of COVID

Most of the scientific research on the virus SARS-CoV-2 has been on developing vaccines for COVID-19. Highly effective vaccines are available in many countries now, but worldwide availability will take time. In addition, some individuals choose not to get vaccinated. 

Proven therapies are needed for those infected with COVID-19. Existing drugs that could be repurposed to fight COVID infection may provide a solution. They are already readily available. Many are inexpensive generics. Some medications have shown promise in observational studies.  

Randomized clinical trials are necessary to determine which existing medications may effectively treat COVID-19 infection. Some trials have recently been completed and others are underway to evaluate the impact of these repurposed drugs on the coronavirus. However, funding for research on therapies for COVID-19 is only a fraction of the funding that has been available for vaccine development and there is no centralized process for enrolling patients in trials. These challenges have hampered scientists in completing large randomized, controlled clinical studies. Yet, therapies have the potential to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and keep most out of the hospitals. 

Fortunately, these issues have attracted more media attention (see Additional Resources section below), and private funders (like the Parsemus Foundation) have stepped up to complete clinical trials. There is also a call for off-label use of some medications on a case-by-case basis, especially when the risk is very low and the potential benefit to treat COVID is high.

Off-label use of medications

Here we review the data on three of these possible therapies for COVID that are part of clinical trials. Click on the buttons for more detailed information on past studies and links to research results.

A small foundation’s role in the fight against COVID-19

As a small, agile nonprofit organization, the Parsemus Foundation was able to pivot from our regular funded programs to a new focus on COVID-19 treatment.

The Parsemus Foundation provided direct funding and/or support to three clinical trials: 1) an evaluation of the impact of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine on COVID-19 infection outcomes, 2) two studies evaluating existing, safe medications to individuals who recently tested positive for COVID-19.

Structure of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus molecule

Fortunately, these issues have attracted more media attention (see Additional Resources below), and private funders (like the Parsemus Foundation) have stepped up to complete clinical trials. There is also a call for off-label use of some medications on a case-by-case basis, especially when the risk is very low and the potential benefit to treat COVID is high.

Clinical trials 

  • ACTIV-6 National Institutes of Health evaluating existing medications. Note that the initial study arms are fully enrolled. Additional study arms may open later in 2022.

Media coverage

  • Simon A. U of M study finds diabetes medication can lower odds of COVID hospitalization, death. KARE 11 Aug 17, 2022.
  • Sidik SM. The hunt for drugs for mild COVID: scientists seek to treat those at lower risk. Nature Jul 18, 2022.
  • Landhuis E. These are the latest COVID treatments. Scientific American Jan 21, 2022.
  • Avril, T. Another old drug is being tried vs. COVID-19, and might actually help. Philadelphia Inquirer Jan 20, 2022.
  • Putka S. Doctor submits fluvoxamine EUA application to FDA. MedPage Today Dec 29, 2021.
  • Landhuis E. The Challenge and Promise of Getting Oral COVID Drugs Into Practice. Medscape Dec 17, 2021.
  • Landhuis E. Investigating antidepressants’ surprising effect on COVID deaths. Scientific American Nov 12, 2021.
  • Suliman A. Antidepressant drug shows promise in treating covid-19, study finds. Washington Post Oct 28, 2021.
  • Landhuis, E. The antidepressant fluvoxamine can keep COVID-19 patients out of the hospital. Science News Oct 27, 2021.
  • Harris J. Continuing the fight against COVID-19. University of Minnesota Foundation Summer 2021.
  • Landhuis E. Scientists Seek Covid Treatment Answers in Cheap, Older Drugs. California Healthline Mar 26, 2021.
  • Stone S. New COVID-19 treatment trial is first to include pregnant women. ABC Denver Mar 31, 2021.
  • Raddatz K. U Of M Medical School studies whether diabetes drug is effective against COVID. CBS Minnesota Mar 19, 2021.
  • Kabani M. COVID-19 research points to repurposed drugs. 60 Minutes Mar 7, 2021.
  • Snowbeck C. University of Minnesota to expand study of whether common diabetes drug could treat COVID. Star Tribune Mar 2, 2021.
  • Gupta S, Kane A. Everything old is new again: Repurposing drugs to treat Covid-19. CNN Feb 27, 2021.
  • Walters K. MMR vaccine shows some COVID-19 protection. HCPlive Feb 26, 2021.
  • Sukhatme V, Sukhatem V. A call to action: Immediate deployment 0f select repurposed drugs for COVID-19 outpatient treatment. HealthAffairs Feb 9, 2021.
  • McMaster University. New study to test drugs for early COVID-19 infection. EurekAlert Feb 9, 2021.
  • Emanuel E, Bright R, Gounder C, Borio L, Osterholm M, Gawande A. Opinion: Vaccines alone won’t solve the pandemic. Here are 3 other things we must do. Washington Post Feb 5, 2021.
  • Landhuis, E. The antidepressant fluvoxamine could keep mild COVID-19 from worsening. Science News Feb. 1, 2021.
  • Klausner J. Existing drugs could help treat covid-19. How do we know when to use them? Washington Post Jan 27, 2021.
  • Al-Agba N. What if I can’t get the COVID-19 vaccine right now? KitSap Sun Dec 26, 2020.
  • Rapaport L. Metformin linked with lower risk of death from COVID-19 in people with Type 2 diabetes. Everyday Health Jun 9, 2020.
  • Apple S. Un-miracle drugs could help tame the pandemic. WIRED Apr 20, 2020.

Human Health News

We’re sorry, you are not eligible for the nationwide COVID-OUT or ACTIV-6 studies, but you may be eligible for other federal trials:

And if you don’t find a match there, this slightly more complex clinical trials finder includes studies sponsored by companies as well:

Trials Today