Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Treatment

Your health care provider will decide on what approach to take for your treatment. There are drugs that have shown some benefit in reducing the severity of illness or risk of death for patients in the hospital by:

Slowing the virus. Antiviral medications reduce the ability of the virus to multiply and spread through the body.

  • Remdesivir (Veklury) is an antiviral medication approved by FDA to treat COVID-19. The current NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines recommend remdesivir for hospitalized adult and pediatric patients (12 years of age and older and weighing at least 88 pounds). Remdesivir is given by daily intravenous infusions for five days in most patients or 10 days among those on ventilators or life support.

For people at high risk of disease progression. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued emergency use authorization (EUA) for two investigational monoclonal antibodies, which are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful viruses and bacteria that can cause disease. These antibodies (bamlanivimab and a combination of casirivimab/imdevimab) could help the immune system recognize and respond more effectively to the virus in non-hospitalized adult and pediatric patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk for progressing to severe disease and/or hospitalization.

Preliminary data suggest that some outpatients may benefit from receiving anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies early in the course of infection. The NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelinesexternal icon find that, to date, there are insufficient data from clinical trials to recommend for or against these treatments and these treatments should not be considered standard of care.

Reducing an overactive immune response. In patients with severe COVID-19, the body’s immune system may overreact to the threat of the virus, worsening the disease. This can cause damage to the body’s organs and tissues. Some treatments can help reduce this overactive immune response.

  • Dexamethasone is a steroid medication, similar to a natural hormone produced by the body. The NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines recommend dexamethasone, or a similar medication, to prevent or reduce injury to the body for some hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19. Dexamethasone is recommended for patients who need supplemental oxygen.

Treating complications. COVID-19 can damage the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, and gastrointestinal organs. It also can cause other complications. Depending on the complications, additional treatments might be used for severely ill hospitalized patients, such as blood thinners to prevent or treat blood clots.

Supporting the body’s immune function. Plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19—called convalescent plasma—can contain antibodies to the virus. This could help the immune system recognize and respond more effectively to the virus, but currently the NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines find there is not enough evidence to recommend these treatments.