Traditional Chinese herbal medicine for treating novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pneumonia: protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis

Syst Rev. 2020 Apr 8;9(1):75. doi: 10.1186/s13643-020-01343-4.


Background: A new type of coronavirus, novel coronavirus (COVID-19), is causing an increasing number of cases of pneumonia and was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization on 30 January 2020. The virus first appeared in Wuhan, China, in late December 2019, and traditional Chinese herbal medicine is being used for its treatment. This systematic review and meta-analysis will assess studies of the effects of traditional Chinese herbal medicine in COVID-19 pneumonia.

Methods: We will search electronic databases including PubMed, Embase, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), Chinese Biomedical Literature Database (CBM), China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), Chinese Science and Technology Periodical Database (VIP), and Wanfang database using keywords related to COVID-19 and traditional Chinese herbal medicine. Reference lists of relevant trials and reviews will be searched. We will manually search gray literature, such as conference proceedings and academic degree dissertations, and trial registries. Two independent reviewers will screen studies (XL and DZ), extract data (YL and LG), and evaluate risk of bias (YL and DZ). Data analysis will be conducted using the Review Manager software (version 5.3.5) and R software (version 3.6.1). Statistical heterogeneity will be assessed using a standard chi-square test with a significance level of P < 0.10. Biases associated with study size (e.g., publication bias) will be investigated using funnel plots, Egger's test and Begg's test, and Trim and Fill analysis.

Discussion: This study will provide a high-quality synthesis of the effects of traditional Chinese herbal medicine for COVID-19. The use of traditional Chinese herbal medicine for treatment or prevention of these novel viral infections affecting the pneumonia will be investigated.

Systematic review registration: PROSPERO registration number: CRD42020168004.

Keywords: COVID-19; Coronavirus; Meta-analysis; Pneumonia; Systematic review; Traditional Chinese herbal medicine emerging infectious diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus / drug effects*
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment
  • Coronavirus Infections / drug therapy
  • Coronavirus Infections / prevention & control
  • Coronavirus Infections / therapy*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional*
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Pandemics / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia, Viral / drug therapy
  • Pneumonia, Viral / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia, Viral / therapy*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal