Coronavirus disease 2019 and the revival of passive immunization: Antibody therapy for inhibiting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 and preventing host cell infection: IUPHAR review: 31

Br J Pharmacol. 2021 Sep;178(17):3359-3372. doi: 10.1111/bph.15359. Epub 2021 Apr 14.


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic stimulated both the scientific community and healthcare companies to undertake an unprecedented effort with the aim of understanding the molecular mechanisms of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and developing effective therapeutic solutions. The peculiar immune response triggered by this virus, which seems to last only few months, led to a search for alternatives such as passive immunization in addition to conventional vaccinations. Convalescent sera, monoclonal antibodies selected from the most potent neutralizing binders induced by the virus infection, recombinant human single-domain antibodies, and binders of variable scaffold and different origin have been tested alone or in combination exploiting monovalent, multivalent and multispecific formats. In this review, we analyse the state of the research in this field and present a summary of the ongoing projects finalized to identify suitable molecules for therapies based on passive immunization.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; antibody cocktail; convalescent plasma; neutralizing antibodies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • COVID-19 Serotherapy
  • COVID-19* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Immunization, Passive
  • SARS-CoV-2*


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral