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How do drugs like diclofenac interact with COVID-19 vaccines?

This article was published on
August 6, 2021

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There is no scientific evidence demonstrating that taking medically-advised diclofenac after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine can cause complications. According to [CDC guidelines](https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/clinical-considerations/covid-19-vaccines-us.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fvaccines%2Fcovid-19%2Finfo-by-product%2Fclinical-considerations.html) “for all currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines, NSAIDs can be taken for the treatment of post-vaccination symptoms.” This includes the use of diclofenac, and as long as recommended amounts are not exceeded and are in line with medical advises. 

There is no scientific evidence demonstrating that taking medically-advised diclofenac after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine can cause complications. According to [CDC guidelines](https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/clinical-considerations/covid-19-vaccines-us.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fvaccines%2Fcovid-19%2Finfo-by-product%2Fclinical-considerations.html) “for all currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines, NSAIDs can be taken for the treatment of post-vaccination symptoms.” This includes the use of diclofenac, and as long as recommended amounts are not exceeded and are in line with medical advises. 

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What our experts say

There is no scientific evidence demonstrating that taking medically-advised diclofenac after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine can cause complications. 

Following vaccination it is common for someone to experience mild and temporary side effects such as fever, headaches etc. This is a normal response to vaccination. It is a sign that the immune system is being activated.  Janssen vaccine recipients’ data shows that 50% experienced at least one temporary side effect (FDA briefing Feb 26, 2021).  To treat these mild side effects, health authorities recommend the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and diclofenac when needed.

According to CDC guidelines “for all currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines, NSAIDs can be taken for the treatment of post-vaccination symptoms.” This includes the use of diclofenac, and as long as recommended amounts are not exceeded and are in line with medical advises. 

The controversy of using NSAIDs post-COVID-19 vaccination stems from three main sources as follows:

  1. Concerns that NSAIDs could worsen COVID-19 in patients (Pubmed March 2020.) However, recent findings from several studies conclude no increased risk of poor outcomes with NSAID use in COVID-19 patients. (Lancet May 7th 2021)
  2. A study found that NSAIDs reduced production of antibodies and other immune responses to the SARS-CoV-2 virus (Journal Of Virology March 2021). This raised the possibility that NSAIDs could also dampen the immune response to COVID-19 vaccines. Clinical trials indicate this not to be the case, with Pfizer and Moderna trials allowing patients to take NSAIDs if needed (Health line).
  3. Messages circulating on social media about NSAIDs and COVID-19 outcomes, which were later proven not to be true (HSE Ireland, The news minute).

In summary, there is no scientific evidence demonstrating that taking diclofenac after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine causes any complications including death. Therefore, based on the current available data, the WHO does not recommend against the use of NSAIDs in patients with COVID-19.  In addition, there is no ban on taking over-the-counter NSAID,s such as ibuprofen, tylenol, aspirin etc. if needed to reduce temporary side effects of COVID-19 vaccination. 

Context and background

As is the case with any medication, health authorities recommend seeking medical advice before taking prescription NSAIDs such as diclofenac. Also, routine administration of NSAIDs before getting a COVID-19 vaccination (for preventing post-vaccination symptoms) is not currently recommended.

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