Methylene Blue has a potent antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 and H1N1 influenza virus in the absence of UV-activation in vitro

Sci Rep. 2021 Jul 12;11(1):14295. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-92481-9.


Methylene blue is an FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and EMA (European Medicines Agency) approved drug with an excellent safety profile. It displays broad-spectrum virucidal activity in the presence of UV light and has been shown to be effective in inactivating various viruses in blood products prior to transfusions. In addition, its use has been validated for methemoglobinemia and malaria treatment. In this study, we first evaluated the virucidal activity of methylene blue against influenza virus H1N1 upon different incubation times and in the presence or absence of light activation, and then against SARS-CoV-2. We further assessed the therapeutic activity of methylene blue by administering it to cells previously infected with SARS-CoV-2. Finally, we examined the effect of co-administration of the drug together with immune serum. Our findings reveal that methylene blue displays virucidal preventive or therapeutic activity against influenza virus H1N1 and SARS-CoV-2 at low micromolar concentrations and in the absence of UV-activation. We also confirm that MB antiviral activity is based on several mechanisms of action as the extent of genomic RNA degradation is higher in presence of light and after long exposure. Our work supports the interest of testing methylene blue in clinical studies to confirm a preventive and/or therapeutic efficacy against both influenza virus H1N1 and SARS-CoV-2 infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COVID-19 / genetics
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / drug therapy*
  • Influenza, Human / genetics
  • Influenza, Human / virology
  • Methylene Blue / pharmacology*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / drug effects
  • SARS-CoV-2 / pathogenicity
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects
  • Vero Cells
  • Virus Inactivation / drug effects*
  • Virus Inactivation / radiation effects
  • Virus Replication / drug effects
  • Virus Replication / radiation effects


  • Methylene Blue