NSAIDs and COVID-19: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Drug Saf. 2021 Sep;44(9):929-938. doi: 10.1007/s40264-021-01089-5. Epub 2021 Aug 2.


Background: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have been discouraged for the treatment of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections, fearing that they could increase the risk of infection or the severity of SARS-CoV-2.

Methods: Original studies providing information on exposure to NSAIDs and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outcomes were retrieved and were included in a descriptive analysis and a meta-analysis with Cochrane Revue Manager (REVMAN 5.4), using inverse variance odds ratio (OR) with random- or fixed-effects models.

Results: Of 92,853 papers mentioning COVID-19, 266 mentioned NSAIDs and 61 mentioned ibuprofen; 19 papers had analysable data. Three papers described NSAID exposure and the risk of SARS-CoV-2 positivity, five papers described the risk of hospital admission in positive patients, 10 papers described death, and six papers described severe composite outcomes. Five papers studied exposure to ibuprofen and death. Using random-effects models, there was no excess risk of SARS-CoV-2 positivity (OR 0.86, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.71-1.05). In SARS-CoV-2-positive patients, exposure to NSAIDs was not associated with excess risk of hospital admission (OR 0.90, 95% CI 0.80-1.17), death (OR 0.88, 95% CI 0.80-0.98), or severe outcomes (OR 1.14, 95% CI 0.90-1.44). With ibuprofen, there was no increased risk of death (OR 0.94, 95% CI 0.78-1.13). Using a fixed-effect model did not modify the results, nor did the sensitivity analyses.

Conclusion: The theoretical risks of NSAIDs or ibuprofen in SARS-CoV-2 infection are not confirmed by observational data.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • COVID-19 / mortality*
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Odds Ratio
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal