The Ibuprofen Debate Reveals the Danger of Covid-19 Rumors
An online furor over whether it’s safe to use the fever reducer reveals how people are sharing incomplete—and sometimes bad—information.
TWO WEEKS AGO, national and world health authorities—and armchair experts and worried well-meaning people—were warning anyone concerned about Covid-19 to avoid ibuprofen. Now, facing contradictory evidence, they’ve backed off that claim.
But the brief online furor over whether it’s safe to use the fever reducer, and the attention paid to the claim that it might be dangerous, are important, both for how people protect themselves in this pandemic and also for how we consume news about it.
Health institutions and agencies are begging people who believe they are ill to stay at home unless their symptoms are severe enough for hospital admission—so permitting people to use the medications they have on hand, rather than forcing them out to pharmacies, is an important accommodation. And researchers who study acetaminophen, the drug briefly touted as the only appropriate fever remedy, warn that it isn’t risk-free either.
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