Chinese Therapeutic Strategy for Fighting COVID-19 and Potential Small-Molecule Inhibitors against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)

J Med Chem. 2020 Nov 25;63(22):13205-13227. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.0c00626. Epub 2020 Sep 11.


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has led to more than 20 million people infected worldwide with an average mortality rate of 3.6%. This virus poses major challenges to public health, as it not only is highly contagious but also can be transmitted by asymptomatic infected individuals. COVID-19 is clinically difficult to manage due to a lack of specific antiviral drugs or vaccines. In this article, Chinese therapy strategies for treating COVID-19 patients, including current applications of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), are comprehensively reviewed. Furthermore, 72 small molecules from natural products and TCM with reported antiviral activity against human coronaviruses (CoVs) are identified from published literature, and their potential applications in combating SARS-CoV-2 are discussed. Among these, the clinical efficacies of some accessible drugs such as remdesivir (RDV) and favipiravir (FPV) for COVID-19 are emphatically summarized. We hope this review provides a foundation for managing the worsening pandemic and developing antivirals against SARS-CoV-2.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • China / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Protease Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional
  • SARS-CoV-2 / drug effects*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / enzymology
  • Small Molecule Libraries / therapeutic use*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Coronavirus Protease Inhibitors
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Small Molecule Libraries