BioScience Trends. 2021;15(5):345-349. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2021.01346)

Update: Drug treatment options for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Shao Y, Chen J, Lu H


Coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) continues to rage as a global pandemic. A number of potential therapeutic agents have been explored over the past year or two. However, numerous drugs that were expected to prove highly effective, such as lopinavir/ritonavir and remdesivir, have been found to have little benefit in large clinical trials. Interleukin-6 receptor antagonists, glucocorticoids, Janus kinase inhibitors, and some antivirals have been found to provide significant benefits in terms of reducing viral load, reducing the time of nucleic acid conversion, or improving survival. For example, bamlanivimab and etesevimab, which are newly designed monoclonal antibodies against the surface spike protein S1 subunit receptor-binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2, have a significant effect on reducing the viral load and the hospitalization rate of patients with mild COVID-19. Several vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 have been widely administered worldwide and have provided good protection. Nevertheless, the increasingly hardy variants of the virus have raised the requirements for vaccine design. Perhaps RBD-based vaccines are a viable way to defend against variants, but this still needs to be verified in a large sample. Therefore, this paper provides an update on the treatment options for COVID-19 based on three previously proposed dimensions of drug screening: standard assays of existing broad-spectrum antivirals, screening of chemical libraries, and redevelopment of new, specific drugs.

KEYWORDS: COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, coronaviruses, drug therapy

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