Google+ Facebook Twitter Twitter

Under the microscope: Ibuprofen

Why are we looking at ibuprofen?

There have been rumours over recent months that taking ibuprofen while suffering with COVID-19 can lead to an increased risk of death.

Why are we looking at ibuprofen?
No, it’s not. The World Health Organization and the European Medicines Agency, among others, dismissed the information as untrue, but it carried on gaining traction.

Where did these false claims come from?
In March, in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, a tweet from the French Health Minister, Olivier Verán, advised patients with COVID-19 not to take ibuprofen. Even though the statement was not backed by any scientifically valid evidence, it subsequently spread to a number of countries.

Why did people believe it?
A team from the Universitat Oberya de Catalunya have been looking at this question. They traced the story’s trail back to a WhatsApp voice message in Germany and, following the digital footprint on the microblogging network, they also analysed how the story spread from its country of origin to users in the Netherlands, France and, finally, Spain and Italy.

Did people believe it straight away?
Not at first. The voice message was forwarded to different users but, as it was not possible to identify who originally recorded the message, it lost credibility and the general tone of comments was to debunk it or make jokes about it, the researchers state.

Then what happened?
In France, where the message was circulated by the health minister, the misinformation had a big impact and comments refuting the claim were virtually non-existent. Other reliable sources, such as the media, then reproduced the Minister’s tweet without fact-checking, helping to take the information to greater segments of the population.

Picture Credit | iStock

Related Articles

Medical eponyms (part 2): Aloysius Alzheimer

This is the second of selected short biographies of persons whose names are directly used for diseases, conditions, syndromes or tests familiar to those working in clinical pathology laboratories.

The great big biomedical lockdown quiz (part 3)

The third instalment of our biomedical science quiz. This time, we have a picture round and eight questions relating to ultrastructure, compiled by Catherine Griffiths, an Electron Microscopist from the Biomedical Imaging Unit at University Hospital Southampton.

Triad of molecules for COVID-19

Professor of immunobiology Adrian Hayday explains how three molecules could be used to predict deterioration in patients with COVID-19.

Hong Kong flu

The Hong Kong flu outbreak of 1968-70 claimed over one million lives worldwide. Retired GP Elizabeth Clyde reflects on her first-hand experiences from this widely forgotten pandemic.