Potential Antiviral Drugs for SARS-Cov-2 Treatment: Preclinical Findings and Ongoing Clinical Research

In Vivo. 2020 Jun;34(3 Suppl):1597-1602. doi: 10.21873/invivo.11949.


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-Cov-2), initially termed 2019-new CoV (2019-nCoV), is a novel coronavirus responsible for the severe respiratory illness currently ongoing worldwide from the beginning of December 2019. This beta gene virus, very close to bat coronaviruses (bat-CoV-RaTG13) and bat-SL-CoVZC45, causes a severe disease, similar to those caused by Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)-CoV and SARS-CoV viruses, featured by low to moderate mortality rate. Unfortunately, the antiviral drugs commonly used in clinical practice to treat viral infections, are not applicable to SARS-Cov-2 and no vaccine is available. Thus, it is extremely necessary to identify new drugs suitable for the treatment of the 2019-nCoV outbreak. Different preclinical studies conducted on other coronaviruses suggested that promising clinical outcomes for 2019-nCoV should be obtained by using alpha-interferon, chloroquine phosphate, arabinol, remdesivir, lopinavir/ritonavir, and anti-inflammatory drugs. Moreover, clinical trials with these suitable drugs should be performed on patients affected by SARS-Cov-2 to prove their efficacy and safety. Finally, a very promising therapeutic drug, tocilizumab, is discussed; it is currently used to treat patients presenting COVID-19 pneumonia. Herein, we recapitulate these experimental studies to highlight the use of antiviral drugs for the treatment of SARS-Cov-2 disease.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-Cov-2; antiviral drugs; coronaviruses; review; tocilizumab; virus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Monophosphate / analogs & derivatives
  • Adenosine Monophosphate / therapeutic use
  • Alanine / analogs & derivatives
  • Alanine / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use
  • Antiviral Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Betacoronavirus / drug effects
  • COVID-19
  • Chloroquine / analogs & derivatives
  • Chloroquine / therapeutic use
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Coronavirus Infections / complications
  • Coronavirus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / veterinary
  • Drug Combinations
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Drug Synergism
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Drugs, Investigational / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Indoles / therapeutic use
  • Lopinavir / therapeutic use
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Neuraminidase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Pandemics*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / complications
  • Pneumonia, Viral / drug therapy*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Primates
  • Ribavirin / therapeutic use
  • Ritonavir / therapeutic use
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Drug Combinations
  • Drugs, Investigational
  • Indoles
  • lopinavir-ritonavir drug combination
  • Lopinavir
  • remdesivir
  • Adenosine Monophosphate
  • Ribavirin
  • chloroquine diphosphate
  • Chloroquine
  • umifenovir
  • Neuraminidase
  • tocilizumab
  • Ritonavir
  • Alanine