Diabetes drug metformin is said to reduce mortality significantly – medical practice

Diabetes and COVID-19: Metformin could significantly increase chances of survival

Type 2 diabetes is one of the most important risk factors in connection with the fatal courses of COVID-19. A recent study suggests that people with diabetes who contract COVID-19 have significantly better chances of survival if they take the diabetes drug metformin.

Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (USA) presented a retrospective study that shows that type 2 diabetics treated with metformin had a better chance of surviving a severe course of COVID-19. The research was published in the journal “Frontiers in Endocrinology”.

COVID-19 mortality decreased by two-thirds with metformin

As the working group reports, the data evaluated in the study show that the risk of death in people with type 2 diabetes and severe COVID-19 courses is reduced by two thirds if those affected already do so before the SARS-CoV-2 infection Diabetes drug metformin.

“This beneficial effect persisted even after risk factors such as age, gender, body weight, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease and heart failure were corrected,” explains study leader Anath Shalev, who is also director of the Diabetes Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). He also emphasizes that similar observations have been made in other countries such as China and France.

In summary, “this suggests that the observed reduction in risk of death associated with metformin use in people with type 2 diabetes and COVID-19 may be generalizable,” Shalev said.

Basic mechanism unknown

However, it is not yet clear why metformin improves the prognosis in connection with COVID-19. For this reason, it cannot yet be clearly stated that this is so, although the data strongly suggest it. The results of the study even suggest that the mechanisms could go beyond an expected improvement in glycemic control or obesity, since neither the body mass index (BMI) nor the blood sugar nor the hemoglobin A1C in the surviving metformin Users compared to the deceased were lower.

“The mechanisms could be related to the anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic effects of metformin,” the study director suspects. If this were the case, the drug could also be effective in high-risk patients without diabetes.

Diabetics are more likely to die from COVID-19

The study evaluated data from 25,326 patients who were tested for COVID-19 at UAB Hospital between February 25 and June 22, 2020. 604 people from this group had to be treated in the clinic for a severe course of COVID-19 – including 239 people who suffer from diabetes. 67 patients did not survive the disease. Among the deaths were 45 people with diabetes. According to the data, the following factors are linked to an increased risk of death:

  • Age over 50 years,
  • high blood pressure,
  • male gender,
  • Presence of diabetes.

Diabetes has been linked to the most dramatic increase in mortality. 67 percent of deaths occurred in those with diabetes. An exception, however, were diabetics, who were treated with metformin beforehand. Only 8 deaths were recorded in this group – two-thirds fewer than in diabetics who did not take metformin. This opens up the possibility that “metformin could have a protective effect in this high-risk population,” summarizes Shalev.

Karl Lauterbach draws attention to the study

The German politician, doctor and health economist Karl Lauterbach tweeted on January 15, 2021 on the subject: “Diabetics have a 3-fold higher risk of dying from Covid. Study from Alabama shows a significant reduction in the risk of Covid for those who control blood sugar with metformin tablets. “(Vb)

Also read: COVID-19 research: Licorice active ingredient glycyrrhizin kills coronaviruses.

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.


Diploma-Editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Deutsches Ärzteblatt: Study: Metformin could reduce the mortality of diabetics from COVID-19 (published: January 15, 2021), aerzteblatt.de
  • The University of Alabama at Birmingham: Metformin use reduces risk of death for patients with COVID-19 and diabetes (veröffentlicht: 14.01.2021), uab.edu
  • Andrew B. Crouse, Tiffany Grimes, Peng Li, et al.: Metformin Use Is Associated With Reduced Mortality in a Diverse Population With COVID-19 and Diabetes; in: Frontiers in Endocrinology, 2021, frontiersin.org

Important NOTE:
This article is for general guidance only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.


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