Doctors in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the disease originated, have published a study showing diabetics taking metformin were much less likely to die than diabetics who didn’t take the drug.
Metformin, which costs 3p per tablet and is already being used by the NHS, is also emerging as an effective treatment for breast cancer and heart disease.
Doctors in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where Covid-19 originated, are hailing the cheap pill which dates back to the 1950s as a new weapon to combat the deadly pandemic
The scientists claim the drug reduces the inflammatory response in the body.
A diabetes drug is being hailed by doctors in China as a potential treatment for coronavirus.
This could be key to beating Covid-19, as inflammation and subsequent cytokine storm are among the main causes of death.
Research by the University of Minnesota also found the drug may be helpful in reducing the risks of coronavirus deaths.
With no cure yet found for the virus, treatment with medicines is seen as key in the fight against it.
The positive news comes after researchers found widely available steroid dexamethasone cuts deaths from coronavirus by up to a third among patients on ventilators, and by a fifth for those on oxygen.
Overweight people are at a greater risk of death from coronavirus.
Studies have found it also helps obese people lose weight even if they don’t have diabetes.
Metformin has the advantage of being cheap and widely available, and so could be distributed to poorer countries.
Scientists even claim the drug could help fight breast cancer.
Suzy Birket believes she survived the deadly disease due to taking the drug as part of a trial at the private Care Oncology Clinic in London.
Suzy told the Daily Mail she is convinced the drugs industry “has taken its eye off the ball” by looking in the wrong direction for treatments for her illness.
Doctors found metformin improved the effectiveness of conventional cancer drugs, as well as disrupting cancer cell signals.
“Who’s going to pay for big trials for regulatory approval when there is no profit at the end. Metformin is dirt cheap.”
She said: “It’s a very powerful treatment but it’s been slow to catch on.