Molecular Biomedicine | Update on treatment and preventive interventions against COVID-19: an overview of potential pharmacological agents and vaccines


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The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) triggered by the new member of the coronaviridae family, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has created an unprecedented challenge for global health. In the present review, researchers focused on promising candidates for the treatment of COVID-19 and collected recently updated evidence relevant to its feasibility in clinical practice in the near future.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a severe acute respiratory syndrome that has infected more than 23,300,000 patients and caused 806,410 deaths from 216 countries and territories so far. The pathogen of COVID-19 is severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a new member of the coronaviridae family that also includes severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)


The majority of confirmed cases are between 30 and 79 years of age and that patients older than 60 tend to develop more serious symptoms or even die. In addition to mild to moderate clinical manifestations such as fever, cough, and fatigue, severe cases often developed lethal complications including acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and acute lung injury. Given the alarming rate of infection and increasing trend of mortality, the development of underlying therapeutic and preventive treatment, as well as the verification of its effectiveness, are the top priorities. Current research mainly referred to and evaluated the application of the empirical treatment based on two precedents, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), including antiviral drugs targeting different stages of virus replication, immunotherapy modulating the overactivated inflammation response, and other therapies such as herbal medicine and mesenchymal stem cells. Besides, the ongoing development of inventing prophylactic interventions such as various vaccines by companies and institutions worldwide is crucial to decline morbidity and mortality (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 A brief overview of drug treatment and preventive measures

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