Infect Chemother.  2020 Sep;52(3):317-334. 10.3947/ic.2020.52.3.317.

Treatment Options for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, and Coronavirus Disease 2019: a Review of Clinical Evidence

  • 1Department of Cancer Biomedical Science, National Cancer Center Graduate School of Cancer Science and Policy, Goyang, Korea
  • 2Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Nghe An Oncology Hospital, Nghe An, Vietnam


Coronaviruses have caused serious Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreaks, and only remdesivir has been recently indicated for the treatment of COVID-19. In the line of therapeutic options for SARS and MERS, this study aims to summarize the current clinical evidence of treatment options for COVID-19. In general, the combination of antibiotics, ribavirin, and corticosteroids was considered as a standard treatment for patients with SARS. The addition of this conventional treatment with lopinavir/ritonavir, interferon, and convalescent plasma showed potential clinical improvement. For patients with MERS, ribavirin, lopinavir/ritonavir, interferon, and convalescent plasma were continuously recommended. However, a high-dose of corticosteroid was suggested for severe cases only. The use of lopinavir/ritonavir and convalescent plasma was commonly reported. There was limited evidence for the effect of corticosteroids, other antiviral drugs like ribavirin, and favipiravir. Monoclonal antibody of tocilizumab and antimalarial agents of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine were also introduced. Among antibiotics for infection therapy, azithromycin was suggested. In conclusion, this study showed the up-to-date evidence of treatment options for COVID-19 that is helpful for the therapy selection and the development of further guidelines and recommendations. Updates of on-going clinical trials and observational studies may confirm the current findings.


COVID-19; SARS; MERS; Treatment; Evidence-based medicine
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