COVID-19 Treatment

Treatment

Outside of social distancing, frequent hand washing and avoiding touching your face, there is no preventative treatment for COVID-19.

Currently there is no specific treatment or vaccine. Most people who become sick with COVID-19 will be able to convalesce at home.

Outpatient treatment is similar to that of the flu

  • stay at home
  • rest
  • stay well hydrated
  • take medications to relieve fever, muscle aches and joint pains. (These medications include paracetamol/acetaminophen, however ibuprofen and similar anti-inflammatory type medication have not been recommended by several health authorities as they may exacerbate the illness.)

Some patients will experience a more severe form of the disease that will require admission to hospital. The main symptoms include shortness of breath and/or deterioration of pre-existing medical conditions.

Hospital treatment may be required and could involve oxygen therapy, and in more severe cases, mechanical ventilation. Specific other therapies may also be necessary including those for any underlying medical conditions.

Scientists are very focused on research to develop effective treatments for COVID-19.

Therapies that are under investigation include:

  • drugs that have been used to treat malaria and autoimmune diseases,
  • antiviral drugs that were developed for other viruses, and
  • antibodies from people who have recovered from COVID-19.

There are numerous clinical trials looking at the effects of these treatments and the outcomes are awaited. The results will help to inform the medical community if any of these therapies are proven as useful to treat the illness.

In the interim, countries have adopted different approaches. Some country medical authorities are recommending that such treatments are not used such until it has been demonstrated that the benefits are greater than the possible side effects, whilst other countries have decided to authorise/recommend their usage regardless.

The recommendation of International SOS is to avoid self-medication with such drugs and follow the therapy recommended by the treating physician.

Trials

Many of the larger studies are multinational trials. China is currently running more randomized treatment trials than any other country, closely followed by the United States. 

Solidarity Trial

The World Health Organization (WHO) is working on a randomized, multicenter adaptive trial that will cover "multiple sites," so far unspecified. WHO has identified a list of "promising candidates" for COVID-19 treatment. These include remdesivir; lopinavir-ritonavir with or without interferon; investigational immunotherapies (monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies); and convalescent sera.

Several groups are tracking clinical trials of both therapeutics and vaccines for COVID-19, including:

The Milken Institute COVID-19 tracker.

The Oxford Trials Tracker on COVID-19.

The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM) COVID-19 Registered Trials Tracker.