The World Health Organisation has released a statement amid fears common painkilling pill ibuprofen could make killer coronavirus even worse.
The WHO said tonight that it does not "recommend against the use of of ibuprofen."
Meanwhile the NHS today said there was "currently no strong evidence that ibuprofen can make coronavirus (Covid-19) worse" but that it still advised people to take paracetamol "until we have more information".
Fears were sparked earlier this week when France's health minister, Olivier Veran – a qualified doctor – said: "Anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen, cortisone …) could aggravate the infection. If you have a fever, take paracetamol."
This message was echoed by Brit parents Dan Collins and Maddie Milner-Collins, whose daughter Amelia's condition deteriorated when she was given the drug at the weekend.
However, tonight, the WHO said in a statement: " Based on currently available information, WHO does not recommend against the use of of ibuprofen.
"WHO is aware of concerns on the use of ibuprofen for the treatment of fever for people with COVID-19. We are consulting with physicians treating the patients and are not aware of reports of any negative effects, beyond the usual ones that limit its use in certain populations."
In the UK this afternoon, NHS advice published on the Department of Health and Social Care's Twitter account said: "Take paracetamol to treat the symptoms of coronavirus, unless your doctor has told you it's not suitable for you".
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It adds: "There is currently no strong evidence that ibuprofen can make coronavirus (Covid-19) worse.
"But until we have more information, take paracetamol to treat the symptoms of coronavirus, unless your doctor has told you paracetamol is not suitable for you.
"If you are already taking ibuprofen or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) on the advice of a doctor, do not stop taking it without checking first."
Yesterday, Reckitt Benckiser, the makers of Nurofen, said it was liaising with the World Health Organisation and other health bodies, but it stressed that there is no current evidence linking ibuprofen to the worsening of Covid-19.
The statement added: "Consumer safety is our number one priority. Ibuprofen is a well-established medicine that has been used safely as a self-care fever and pain reducer, including in viral illnesses, for more than 30 years.
"We do not currently believe there is any proven scientific evidence linking over-the-counter use of ibuprofen to the aggravation of Covid-19."
A frontline NHS doctor, who chose to remain anonymous, told PA they are concerned a lack of testing in the UK for coronavirus could mean patients in need of NSAIDs are denied pain relief unnecessarily.
"If you're a rheumatoid patient and you have chronic pain you may need that to function," they said.
"They're being told to stop because of the virus, but again they're not being tested so you don't know.
"And then you tell them to take paracetamol, which is a weaker, less effective drug, and not available in the stores because people have been rushing to buy it. It's massively worrying."
In a moving Facebook post, Amelia's stepdad Dan shared a photo of the poorly four-year-old and warned: "To those of you that have children please read. If your child has symptoms of coronavirus, DO NOT give them ibuprofen."
Dan says Amelia had been unwell since Tuesday with a cough, fever and cold.
With those symptoms and a rising temperature they called 111, who said they'd send out paramedics within two hours to check on her.
In the meantime, unable to get hold of any Calpol, the couple gave her ibuprofen instead. And that's when her condition worsened drastically.
"Within an hour of giving it to her, she dropped dramatically," said Dan.
"She was panting while trying to breathe, her heart rate was very rapid, she couldn’t keep her eyes open, couldn’t lift her head up, her body was shaking, she started being sick on herself and her temperature had risen to 39.4!
"We called back up and they sent out an emergency ambulance, once the paramedics got here they managed to bring her temp and stats down a bit, they’re still higher than normal but not dangerous high anymore.
"Now she’s back on Calpol, she’s back to just being her poorly self.
"The paramedics only told us while here that we're not to give her ibuprofen."
He added: "The paramedic said about self isolating and calling back if her temp rises that high again, so I asked if it’s just for the 7 days as it’s already been 5 days but they said that as she has all symptoms we're to keep her isolated until all symptoms are gone.
"So please don’t give them ibuprofen!" warned Dan, from Bristol.
Now medics in the UK are repeating the French minister's warning.
Dr Amir Khan, star of the Channel 5 show GPs Behind Closed Doors, has written about it in Al Jazeera.
He says that despite anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen being important drugs that are used by millions of people to treat pain, different types of arthritis, headaches, sore throats and colds, they 'can have a depressive effect on parts of our immune systems' – and that is where the danger lies with coronavirus.
"When it comes to taking them to help ease the symptoms of the common cold, we do not really have to worry about this slight but important reduction in the strength of our immune systems: We are very unlikely to develop complications from the common cold, let alone die from it," he said.
"But we need our immune system in top working order in order to battle the coronavirus and win."
He explains that when the virus enters our body, it induces mild to severe respiratory problems, a high fever, cough and, potentially, multi-organ dysfunction, which can lead to death.
Our bodies release mast cells in response to the virus – which are released very quickly from our respiratory tract – and when they come into contact with the virus, they then trigger 'a much bigger immune response, which involves inflammatory chemicals being released'.
"We need these inflammatory chemicals to help tackle the virus in the medium to long term," said Dr Khan.
"It is the effectiveness of these chemicals that decides whether a person develops complications from the coronavirus or makes a full recovery.
"If we take medicines that dampen this immune response, such as ibuprofen, this can lead to us not fighting off the infection as effectively, potentially leading to a longer illness with a higher risk of complications."
He does however stress that some people rely on commonly used anti-inflammatories to help manage crippling pain and long-term health conditions and often it's the only thing they can use.
So anyone taking them on a regular basis needs to discuss any changes with their doctor first.
Amelia's mum Maddie, also mum to eight-year-old Katie, says she's 'never seen her daughter as poorly in her life' and they are now self-isolating.
Speaking to the M.E.N's Manchester Family, she said: "I had her in bed with me last night so I could keep an eye on her, she was up all night coughing and wheezing and with a high fever still, today has been the same.
"She has every symptom and reacted badly when given ibuprofen, which would point to the virus.
"She’s also been ill for seven days now and shows no sign of being better, but with them not testing we won’t know if it is for definite or not.
"They didn't mention testing, as I’m aware if you’re well enough to stay home and self isolate then they aren’t testing, they’re only testing those with underlying health conditions that are ending up admitted to hospital with it.
"When they left her heart and breathing rate were still up and her temperature had gone down to 38.4, which is still high, but not dangerously high like it was. They said even though her stats are still up they’re happy for me to self isolate her and manage it from home.
"We’re just to do that until all symptoms are gone and hope she gets better soon."
- World Health Organisation
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