Can melatonin reduce the severity of COVID-19 pandemic?

Int Rev Immunol. 2020;39(4):153-162. doi: 10.1080/08830185.2020.1756284. Epub 2020 Apr 29.


The current COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most devastating events in recent history. The virus causes relatively minor damage to young, healthy populations, imposing life-threatening danger to the elderly and people with diseases of chronic inflammation. Therefore, if we could reduce the risk for vulnerable populations, it would make the COVID-19 pandemic more similar to other typical outbreaks. Children don't suffer from COVID-19 as much as their grandparents and have a much higher melatonin level. Bats are nocturnal animals possessing high levels of melatonin, which may contribute to their high anti-viral resistance. Viruses induce an explosion of inflammatory cytokines and reactive oxygen species, and melatonin is the best natural antioxidant that is lost with age. The programmed cell death coronaviruses cause, which can result in significant lung damage, is also inhibited by melatonin. Coronavirus causes inflammation in the lungs which requires inflammasome activity. Melatonin blocks these inflammasomes. General immunity is impaired by anxiety and sleep deprivation. Melatonin improves sleep habits, reduces anxiety and stimulates immunity. Fibrosis may be the most dangerous complication after COVID-19. Melatonin is known to prevent fibrosis. Mechanical ventilation may be necessary but yet imposes risks due to oxidative stress, which can be reduced by melatonin. Thus, by using the safe over-the-counter drug melatonin, we may be immediately able to prevent the development of severe disease symptoms in coronavirus patients, reduce the severity of their symptoms, and/or reduce the immuno-pathology of coronavirus infection on patients' health after the active phase of the infection is over.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Bat; COVID-19; Coronavirus; Melatonin; SARS-CoV-2.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging / immunology
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Betacoronavirus / immunology*
  • Betacoronavirus / pathogenicity
  • COVID-19
  • Chiroptera / immunology
  • Chiroptera / virology
  • Circadian Rhythm / drug effects
  • Circadian Rhythm / immunology
  • Coronavirus Infections / immunology
  • Coronavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology
  • Humans
  • Melatonin / administration & dosage*
  • Nonprescription Drugs / administration & dosage*
  • Pandemics / prevention & control*
  • Photoperiod
  • Pneumonia, Viral / immunology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / prevention & control*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Antioxidants
  • Nonprescription Drugs
  • Melatonin