Systematic review on current antiviral therapy in COVID-19 pandemic

Med J Malaysia. 2020 Nov;75(6):710-716.


Introduction: Currently, there are several attempts to find an effective antiviral drugs against the COVID-19. Although majority of the COVID-19 patients have mild to moderate clinical events, up to 5-10% may have severe, life threatening events that urgently require effective drugs. The purpose of this systematic review is to evaluate the effectiveness of antiviral therapies in the treatment of COVID-19.

Methods: An extensive search was performed in PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Library for randomised controlled trials (RCTs), prospective case series studies that evaluated therapies COVID-19. The outcomes searched for were mortality, recovery rate, length of hospital stay and clinical improvement from January to May 15, 2020. Independent reviewers searched, identified, screened, and related studies were included.

Results: Total of five RCTs on 439 patients and seventeen case series involving 1656 patients were found in the specified review period that reported the use of Lopinavir, Ritonavir, Remdesivir. Oseltamivir, Ribavirin in patients with COVID-19; but none of which showed efficacy of antiviral therapy. Such current findings impede researchers from recommending an appropriate and effective antiviral therapy against COVID-19, making it a serious concern for the global community.

Discussion: In the present pandemic and any future epidemics, all the related authorities should pursue many more RCTs, cohort and case series for a prospective outcome in the management and treatment guidelines.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • COVID-19 / drug therapy*
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Pandemics*
  • Ribavirin / therapeutic use*
  • SARS-CoV-2*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Ribavirin