Pharmacological interventions to prevent Covid-19 disease: A rapid review

Rev Med Virol. 2022 May;32(3):e2299. doi: 10.1002/rmv.2299. Epub 2021 Sep 28.


The aim of this rapid review was to determine the effectiveness of pharmacological interventions (excluding vaccines) to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) or reduce the severity of disease. A systematic search of published peer-reviewed articles and non-peer-reviewed pre-prints was undertaken from 1 January 2020 to 17 August 2021. Four randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and one non-RCT were included; three trials (two RCTs and one non-RCT) tested ivermectin with or without carrageenan. While all reported some potential protective effect of ivermectin, these trials had a high risk of bias and the certainty of evidence was deemed to be 'very low'. One RCT tested bamlanivimab compared to placebo and reported a significantly reduced incidence of Covid-19 in the intervention group; this trial had a low risk of bias however the certainty of evidence was deemed 'very low'. The fifth RCT tested casirivimab plus imdevimab versus placebo and reported that the combination of monoclonal antibodies significantly reduced the incidence of symptomatic and asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, viral load, duration of symptomatic disease and the duration of a high viral load; this trial was deemed to have a low risk of bias, and the certainty of evidence was 'low'. The designations 'low' and 'very low' regarding the certainty of evidence indicate that the estimate of effect is uncertain and therefore is unsuitable for informing decision-making. At the time of writing, there is insufficient high quality evidence to support the use of pharmacological interventions to prevent Covid-19.

Keywords: Covid-19; SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus; drug intervention; prevention; prophylaxis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Ivermectin / therapeutic use
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • imdevimab
  • bamlanivimab
  • Ivermectin
  • casirivimab