A London-based research team has begun to trial ibuprofen as a treatment to reduce respiratory failure in Covid-19 patients.

This comes as experts no longer believe that ibuprofen worsens coronavirus symptoms, as had been believed at the start of the pandemic.

The Liberate trial, being run by London’s Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, King’s College London and the pharmaceutical organisation the SEEK Group, focuses on lipid ibuprofen, which differs from standard tablets.

The randomised study will see half of the recruited patients receiving standard care and the other half receiving the drug in addition to standard care, with the drug administered at a very specific stage of the disease, to hospitalised patients with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, researchers said.

They said this comes as SEEK Group lab-based, pre-clinical tests had shown the special formulation of ibuprofen to be effective for treating severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a complication of Covid-19.

The study, which is part-funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), comes as the Government had an expert group review reported links between ibuprofen and worsening of Covid-19 symptoms.

The Commission of Human Medicines concluded, in mid-April, that 'there is currently insufficient evidence to establish a link between use of ibuprofen, or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and susceptibility to contracting Covid-19 or the worsening of its symptoms'.

Rapid NICE guidance, published 3 April, had said GPs should advise patients to use paracetamol for Covid-19 until there was more evidence available. On 30 April, the guidance was updated and it now says 'advise patients to take paracetamol or ibuprofen if they have fever and other symptoms that antipyretics would help treat'.