COVID-19 and Metformin

Bottles of Metformin on a shelf

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Metformin for COVID

Individuals with diabetes are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 infection. Can tighter control over blood glucose levels make a difference to patients?

A publication by an Italian team provided evidence that COVID-19 patients with hyperglycemia who were treated with insulin infusion had a lower risk of severe disease than patients without insulin infusion. And scientists in China, France, and the U.S. reported that patients with the virus and pre-existing Type 2 diabetes had better outcomes if they had improved glycemic control or were on diabetes medication (metformin), and worse outcomes with uncontrolled hyperglycemia.

Observational studies have suggested a possible benefit of treatment with metformin, a common medication for people with type II diabetes or prediabetes, for COVID-19 outcomes. Scientists have called for more clinical research on metformin and its ability to treat COVID-19 infection. This inexpensive (<$5/month) medication may have antiviral action. Metformin has been used for years off-label to treat other metabolic conditions like obesity, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure — the same risk factors for poor outcomes after COVID-19 infection. Metformin is also safe to use during pregnancy.

Metformin lowers blood sugar and inflammation by activating an enzyme called AMPK. This activity also appears to reduce angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (or ACE2), which serves as a gateway for COVID-19 to enter and infect cells. Thus, the way metformin works to control blood sugar might also help to control coronavirus infection (see this article in Everyday Health).

Randomized controlled studies are needed to know if the survival benefits observed are due to metformin or some other factors. The Together Trial did not find that metformin reduced hospitalizations, but the University of Minnesota COVID-OUT clinical trial evaluating metformin is underway. 

Metformin molecule

Take Action

  • If you recently tested positive for COVID, you can sign up for a clinical trial or use our clinical trial finder:

    • COVID OUT – University of Minnesota trial evaluating fluvoxamine, ivermectin, metformin.
    • ACTIV-6 – NIH trial evaluating fluvoxamine, fluticasone, ivermectin.

Metformin

  • Bode B, Garrett V, Messler J, et al. (2020). Glycemic characteristics and clinical outcomes of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the United States. J Diabetes Sci Technol 14(4):813-821. (free full text)
  • Bramante C, Ingraham N, Murray T, et al. Metformin and risk of mortality in patients hospitalised with COVID-19: a retrospective cohort analysis Lancet Healthy Long (2021) 2(1):e34–41.  (free full text)
  • Ibrahim S, Lowe JR, Bramante CT, et al. (2021). Metformin and Covid-19: Focused review of mechanisms and current literature suggesting benefit. Front. Endocrinol. 12:587801. (free full text).
  • Sardu C, D’Onofrio N, Balestrieri ML, et al. (2020). Outcomes in patients with hyperglycemia affected by Covid-19: Can we do more on glycemic control? Diabetes Care 43(7): 1408–1415. (free full text)
  • Zhu L, She Z, Cheng X, et al. (2020).  Association of blood glucose control and outcomes in patients with COVID-19 and pre-existing Type 2 diabetes. Cell Metabolism 31, 1068–1077. (free full text)

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:

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