Which medications are effective against COVID-19?

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While no existing treatment is capable of preventing or curing COVID-19, several medicines may help relieve symptoms and control the virus’s impact.

COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2. It initiates an inflammatory reaction throughout the body, which can result in lung and other systemic damage.

Which medications are effective against COVID-19? - GettyImages
Which medications are effective against COVID-19? – GettyImages

When the virus first appeared in 2019, experts were unsure how to treat it. Since then, scientists have been working 24 hours a day to discover therapeutic alternatives, and some are now accessible.

This article discusses the current medicines available for treating symptoms both at home and in the hospital. Additionally, it discusses vaccination alternatives.


Acetaminophen (Tylenol), often known as paracetamol, is an anti-inflammatory medication that can help treat minor body aches, pains, and fever.

Acetaminophen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Analgesics are used to treat mild to severe pain. Antipyretics work by inhibiting the synthesis of prostaglandins, which alter the body’s temperature control.

Acetaminophen is a prescription medication that is also accessible over the counter and online.

Anti-inflammatory medications that are not steroidal

NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, can help decrease temperature, discomfort, and inflammation.

NSAIDs, such as acetaminophen, help to decrease fever. Additionally, they contain anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties.

During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, one study’s authors theorized that ibuprofen may exacerbate COVID-19 by boosting the expression of an enzyme associated with SARS-CoV-2 infections. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 is the name of the enzyme (ACE2). They reasoned that this might raise the chance of severe symptoms arising.

However, the study did not explicitly examine individuals who were using ibuprofen in conjunction with COVID-19.

According to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there is insufficient evidence to conclude that NSAID usage has a detrimental effect on clinical COVID-19 results.

Ibuprofen is available without a prescription or online.

Anti-cough medication

Cough medicines may be beneficial in controlling coughing and a sore throat. Cough medications are classified into two categories.

Expectorants, such as Robitussin and Mucinex, aid in the thinning and loosening of mucus, facilitating its expulsion from the lungs.

Cough suppressants such as dextromethorphan (Delsym) and codeine work by inhibiting the cough reflex in the body. This class of medicine may be beneficial in the treatment of a chronic dry cough.

Online shoppers may acquire a variety of cough medications.

Reminddesivir (Veklury)

Remdesivir (Veklury) is a novel, broad-spectrum antiviral agent that may inhibit the virus’s growth in the body.

Antiviral medications can significantly lessen the severity and duration of viral infections. Certain antivirals inhibit virus replication, while others work to prevent the virus from infecting new cells.

Remdesivir may shorten the recovery period for individuals getting hospital treatment for a COVID-19-related lung infection, according to research.

Veklury was the first medication approved by the FDA for the treatment of COVID-19.


In certain instances, clinicians may administer dexamethasone or another corticosteroid off-label to patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19 symptoms.

Dexamethasone can aid in the reduction of inflammation and the management of septic shock. It may help avoid severe symptoms and damage to the lungs and many bodily systems when used in conjunction with antiviral treatment.

According to preliminary research published in July 2020, it may help lower the chance of death from severe symptoms.

However, because corticosteroids can have serious side effects, a doctor must closely monitor their effects. They are intended for temporary usage only.


The FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for clinicians to administer bamlanivimab in certain circumstances in November 2020.

Bamlanivimab is a monoclonal antibody with neutralizing activity. It specifically targets a region of the spike protein that facilitates the entry of SARS-CoV-2 into cells. In other words, it may act as a barrier to the virus’s entry into cells.

Doctors may prescribe it to individuals with COVID-19 symptoms who are not hospitalized but are at a high risk of developing severe disease owing to their age or pre-existing health condition.

However, there is scant data to support its efficacy. Additionally, this medication’s supply is restricted. Experts do not advocate broad usage of this medication until further study is completed.

EUA does not imply complete FDA clearance. If additional data indicates that the dangers associated with a medication exceed the benefits, the FDA may revoke the EUA.


Baricitinib is an approved Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. It may aid in the reduction of immunological responses and the management of inflammation.

According to the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) recommendations, physicians may use baricitinib with EUA permission. They can use it to treat COVID-19 in patients aged 2 years and older who are taking remdesivir (Veklury) and oxygen treatment or assisted breathing in a hospital setting.

COVID-19 rehabilitative plasma

Convalescent plasma treatment is transferring plasma from an individual who has generated antibodies to a certain virus to another individual who is infected with the same virus. This manner, it can aid in the treatment of infectious illnesses.

COVID-19 convalescent plasma treatment involves the collection of plasma from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19. Antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus are present in the plasma.

In the United States, an EUA authorizes healthcare providers to utilize convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 infection in hospitalized patients. Ongoing research is being conducted to determine its efficacy and the optimal methods for its use.

Convalescent plasma therapy is not synonymous with vaccination therapy.

Vaccines Numerous organizations worldwide have been attempting to create a vaccine that will protect individuals against COVID-19. Certain vaccines have been approved, and several nations have begun immunization programs.

Two vaccines have been approved by the FDA in the United States: the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccinations began in December 2020, and public health officials are aiming to vaccinate as many people as possible. The vaccination is completely free for all residents of the United States. Each individual will require two dosages.

Additional possibilities

Numerous more treatments are presently undergoing clinical studies but have not yet been approved for usage.

These include the following:

  • tocilizumab (Actemra), an anti-arthritis drug
  • bucillamine, another anti-arthritis drug
  • heparin, a blood thinner
  • ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug that may have antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects
  • favipiravir, an antiviral drug that appears effective against ebola

Favipiravir already has approval for use in Italy, China, and some other countries, but not yet in the U.S.

What is the difference between hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine?

Doctors prescribe hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat malaria.

The FDA approved both medicines to treat COVID-19 in March 2020. However, three months later, they rescinded this authorization, citing evidence that the possible dangers exceeded the benefits.

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