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An antiviral effect of lithium has been proposed, but never investigated for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Using electronic health records of 26 554 patients with documented serum lithium levels during the pandemic, we show that the 6-month COVID-19 infection incidence was lower among matched patients with 'therapeutic' (0.50-1.00) versus 'subtherapeutic' (0.05-0.50) lithium levels (hazard ratio (HR) = 0.82, 95% CI 0.69-0.97, P = 0.017) and among patients with 'therapeutic' lithium levels versus matched patients using valproate (HR = 0.79, 95% CI 0.67-0.92, P = 0.0023). Lower rates of infection were observed for both new COVID-19 diagnoses and positive polymerase chain reaction tests, regardless of underlying psychiatric diagnosis and vaccination status.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Psychiatry

Publication Date



1 - 3


COVID-19, bipolar disorder, lithium, psychopharmacology, valproate