Other encouraging results in the fight against Covid came from a study released in September 2020 that demonstrated sitagliptin (Januvia), an oral Type 2 diabetes medication, cut Covid mortality in half. Among 338 patients with Type 2 diabetes admitted for Covid-19 infection to Northern Italy hospitals, half were randomized to receive 50 mg or 100 mg Januvia a day plus standard care. Another 169 received only standard care after entry.
Only 18% of those taking Januvia died, compared to 37% of those who received the placebo, a highly significant 56% reduction in risk (p <0.0001). Clinical outcomes also improved in 60% of the Januvia group compared to only 38% of those who got the placebo (p = <0.0001).
Why Januvia? Covid-19 gains entry into the body’s cells mostly through angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE-2) receptors found on multiple cells’ surfaces throughout the body. Less well-known, Covid also enters cells through dipeptidyl peptidase-4 or DPP-4 receptors. The prescription diabetes medication Januvia lowers glucose levels by blocking DPP-4 receptors on cells.
By blocking DPP-4, Januvia reduces the entry and impact of the Covid virus. Also, Januvia’s blocking of DPP-4 activity favorably regulates the immune system to reduce inflammation, suppress the release of signaling proteins, and lower the production of harmful interleukin-6 cytokines. Because Januvia does not lower glucose levels in people without diabetes, one would expect similar protective benefits in people who do not have diabetes.
A plant called berberine, available over-the-counter for lowering glucose levels in Type 2 diabetes, acts like Januvia by blocking DPP-4 receptors. Although not been clinically tested for Covid, berberine has other anti-viral activities of its own. It is known to lessen viral multiplications, regulate viral signaling pathways, and support host immune responses to improve viral clearance. It provides a less expensive and more accessible DPP-4 inhibitor.
If not already in your medicine cabinet, you may want to add some of these less expensive and readily available over-the-counter interventions to your shopping list. Some like vitamin D and zinc may prevent Covid. Start others at the first sign of symptoms or when a Covid-19 test comes back positive.
A good facemask provides ultimate protection against Covid. The Diabetes Mall offers a good selection of masks, forehead thermometer, and oximeter at great prices.