Current COVID-19 treatments: Rapid review of the literature

Yijia Dong, Azwa Shamsuddin, Harry Campbell, Evropi Theodoratou

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: As SARS-CoV-2 continues to spread worldwide, it has already resulted in over 110 million cases and 2.5 million deaths. Currently, there are no effective COVID-19 treatments, although numerous studies are under way. SARS-CoV-2, however, is not the first coronavirus to cause serious outbreaks. COVID-19 can be compared with previous human coronavirus diseases, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), to better understand the development of treatments.

Methods: Databases Medline, Embase and WHO COVID-19 was systematically searched on 9 February 2021 for studies reporting on therapeutic effect of COVID-19 treatments. Clinical trials, case reports, observational studies and systematic reviews in the English language were eligible.

Results: 1416 studies were identified and 40 studies were included in this review. Therapies included are: remdesivir, convalescent plasma, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ ritonavir, interferon, corticosteroids, cytokine storm inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies. Remdesivir, convalescent plasma and interferon seems to provide some clinical benefits such as faster recovery time and reduced mortality, but these effects are not clinically significant. Some corticosteroids are effective in reducing mortality in severe COVID-19 patients. Hydroxychloroquine do not convey any beneficial, and therapies such as cytokine storm inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies were also not effective and require further investigation.

Conclusions: There is no single therapy effective against COVID-19. However, a combination of therapies administered at different stages of infection may provide some benefit. This conclusion is reflected in the limited effects of these treatments in previous human coronaviruses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10003
JournalJournal of Global Health
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2021


  • COVID-19/therapy
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


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