Antiviral activities of type I interferons to SARS-CoV-2 infection

Antiviral Res. 2020 Jul;179:104811. doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2020.104811. Epub 2020 Apr 29.


There is an urgent need to identify antivirals to curtail the COVID-19 pandemic. Herein, we report the sensitivity of SARS-CoV-2 to recombinant human interferons α and β (IFNα/β). Treatment with IFN-α or IFN-β at a concentration of 50 international units (IU) per milliliter reduces viral titers by 3.4 log or over 4 log, respectively, in Vero cells. The EC50 of IFN-α and IFN-β treatment is 1.35 IU/ml and 0.76 IU/ml, respectively, in Vero cells. These results suggest that SARS-CoV-2 is more sensitive than many other human pathogenic viruses, including SARS-CoV. Overall, our results demonstrate the potential efficacy of human Type I IFN in suppressing SARS-CoV-2 infection, a finding which could inform future treatment options for COVID-19.

Keywords: Antiviral therapy; COVID-19; Innate immune; Interferon; SARS-CoV-2.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Betacoronavirus / drug effects*
  • COVID-19
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Coronavirus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Coronavirus Infections / immunology
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Interferon Type I / pharmacology*
  • Interferon-alpha / pharmacology
  • Interferon-beta / pharmacology
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / drug therapy*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / immunology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / immunology
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / virology
  • Vero Cells
  • Viral Load / drug effects
  • Virus Replication / drug effects


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Interferon Type I
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Interferon-beta