Statins as an adjunctive therapy for COVID-19: the biological and clinical plausibility

Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2021 Feb;43(1):37-50. doi: 10.1080/08923973.2020.1863984. Epub 2021 Jan 6.


The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that causes the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has infected millions of individuals and has claimed hundreds of thousands of human lives worldwide. Patients with underlying cardiovascular conditions are at high risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection, and COVID-19 patients have high incidence of cardiovascular complications such as acute cardiac injury, arrhythmias, heart failure, and thromboembolism. The disease has no approved proven effective therapy and hence repurposing of existing approved drugs has been considered as the fastest treatment approach. Statins have been shown to exhibit lipid lowering dependent and independent cardiovascular protective effects as well as favorable effects in various other pathophysiological states. These beneficial properties of statins are a result of their multiple pleotropic effects that include, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, antithrombotic and antimicrobial properties. In this review, we provide a comprehensive description of the mechanisms of the pleotropic effects of statins, the relevant pre-clinical and clinical data pertinent to their role in infections and acute lung injury, the possible cardiovascular benefits of statins in COVID-19, and the implications of the therapeutic potential of statins in COVID-19 disease. We conclude with the rationale for conducting randomized controlled trials of statins in COVID-19 disease.

Keywords: ARDS; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; Statins; acute lung injury; anti-inflammatory; antiviral; immunomodulatory.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Lung Injury / drug therapy
  • Acute Lung Injury / etiology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • COVID-19 / complications
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Pneumonia / drug therapy
  • Pneumonia / etiology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors