Most viral infections have limited treatment options available and the same holds for COVID-19, its causative agent being the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Drugs used in the past against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) viruses, which belong to the same family of viruses as the novel Coronavirus included ribavirin, interferon (alfa and beta), lopinavir-ritonavir combination, and corticosteroids. There remains controversy regarding their efficacy to date, except for the last one. Hence, large-scale multicentric trials are being conducted involving multiple drugs. Chloroquine and hydroxy-chloroquine were initially taking the race ahead but have now been rejected. Remdesivir was a promising candidate, for which the FDA had issued an emergency use authorization, but now is not recommended by the WHO. Convalescent plasma therapy had promising results in the early severe viremia phase, but the PLACID trial made an obscure end. Only corticosteroids have shown demonstrable benefits in improving mortality rates among severe COVID-19 cases. Many new modalities like monoclonal antibodies and tyrosine kinase inhibitors are discussed. In this chapter, we review the therapeutic drugs under investigation for the COVID-19 treatment, their mode of action, degree of effectiveness, and recommendations by different centers regarding their use in current settings.
Part of the book: Fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic