Currently, only one medication has been approved to treat COVID-19. No cure is available for COVID-19. Antibiotics aren't effective against viral infections such as COVID-19. Researchers are testing a variety of possible treatments.
The FDA has approved the antiviral drug remdesivir (Veklury) to treat COVID-19 in hospitalized adults and children who are age 12 and older in the hospital. The FDA has granted an emergency use authorization for the rheumatoid arthritis drug baricitinib (Olumiant) to treat COVID-19 in some cases. Baricitinib is a pill that seems to work against COVID-19 by reducing inflammation and having antiviral activity. The FDA states baricitinib may be used in combination with remdesivir in people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 who are on mechanical ventilators or need supplemental oxygen.
Three monoclonal antibody medications have received emergency use authorization from the FDA. Monoclonal antibodies are proteins created in a lab that can help the immune system fight off viruses. Three monoclonal antibody medications have received emergency use authorization from the FDA. One medication is called bamlanivimab and the second medication is a combination of bamlanivimab and etesevimab. The third medication is a combination of two antibodies called casirivimab and imdevimab. All three drugs are used to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in people who have a higher risk of developing serious illness due to COVID-19. Treatment consists of a single intravenous infusion given in an outpatient setting. To be most effective, these medications need to be given soon after COVID-19 symptoms start and prior to hospitalization.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has recommended the corticosteroid dexamethasone for people hospitalized with severe COVID-19 who are on supplemental oxygen or need mechanical ventilation. Other corticosteroids, such as prednisone, methylprednisolone or hydrocortisone, may be used if dexamethasone isn't available.
The FDA has also granted emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma therapy to treat COVID-19. Convalescent plasma is blood donated by people who've recovered from COVID-19. It's used to treat people who are ill with COVID-19 in the hospital.
Many people with COVID-19 may have mild illness and can be treated with supportive care. Supportive care is aimed at relieving symptoms and may include:
- Pain relievers (ibuprofen or acetaminophen)
- Cough syrup or medication
- Fluid intake
There is no evidence that ibuprofen or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) need to be avoided.
If you have mild symptoms, your doctor may recommend that you recover at home. He or she may give you special instructions to monitor your symptoms and to avoid spreading the illness to others. You'll likely be asked to isolate yourself as much as possible from family and pets while you're sick, wear a mask when you're around people and pets, and use a separate bedroom and bathroom.
Your doctor will likely recommend that you stay in home isolation for a period of time except to get medical care. Your doctor will likely follow up with you regularly. Follow guidelines from your doctor and local health department about when you can end home isolation.
If you're very ill, you may need to be treated in the hospital.