Question & Answer

Does taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, or aspirin make the symptoms of COVID-19 worse?

Click image to download
  • Ibuprofen is one of a group of drugs known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They are often used to help relieve pain, reduce inflammation and reduce fevers.
  • Claims have circulated on social media linking the use of ibuprofen to a worsening of the symptoms of COVID-19. These claims have been made by a number of people and organisations. Claims began following a letter on March 11, 2020 in The Lancet journal, which suggested, on the basis of limited evidence, that NSAIDs increase a particular enzyme (a type of substance that occurs naturally in the body), and this increase could worsen the symptoms of COVID-19 in some people.
  • There is no high-quality evidence linking the use of NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, with worsening symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Until there is more evidence, Health Service Executive (HSE),the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE, UK) and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) recommend that people who have tested positive for COVID-19, or who believe they have COVID-19, may take ibuprofen.
  • Some people take ibuprofen for other illnesses (e.g., arthritis). The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (UK) and the European Medicines Agency recommend that people currently advised to use ibuprofen by their healthcare professional should not stop using it.

Things to Remember


  • Lead Researcher: Dr. KM Saif-Ur-Rahman, Evidence Synthesis Ireland and Cochrane Ireland, University of Galway.
  • Reviewed by: Prof. Declan Devane, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, HRB-Trials Methodology Research Network, Evidence Synthesis Ireland & Cochrane Ireland, University of Galway.
  • Topic advisor: Prof. Andrew Murphy, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Galway, Health Research Board Primary Care Clinical Trials Network Ireland and General Practitioner principal in a semi-rural setting.
  • Public and patient advisor: Deirdre Mac Loughlin, PPI Ignite, University of Galway.
  • Journalist Advisor: Dr. Claire O’Connell, Journalist, Contributor, The Irish Times.