Coronavirus Sars-CoV-2 and Covid-19: treatment

There are currently only a few effective and approved drugs that can be used routinely against COVID-19. Intensive research is therefore currently being carried out into further treatment options.

Covid-19: treatment depends on the severity of the disease

The currently approved drugs are used exclusively in the inpatient sector. The different medications are used early or late during different phases of the infection and the choice of medication depends on the severity of the infection.

Mild course of Covid-19: treatment

In uncomplicated cases, it is sufficient to alleviate the symptoms. For example, cough and painkillers and antipyretics can help. Many patients can cure their illness at home and do not require medical treatment. In this case, plenty of rest and adequate hydration will help. It is also important to stay away from other people so as not to infect them, to wash your hands regularly and to clean surfaces that the infected person has touched. For people with risk factors for a severe course, the administration of a mixture of artificially produced antibodies against COVID-19 could be a promising option in the future. In addition, drugs that have to be swallowed daily for a few days are currently being tested in clinical trials.

Severe course of Covid-19: treatment

In severe cases, treatment in hospital is necessary. There are several treatment options – including medication. Some examples of possible treatments:

  • Oxygen for shortness of breath and breathing difficulties – via an oxygen mask
  • Remdesivir – an antiviral drug that was actually developed to combat Ebola. In patients who require oxygen, Remdesivir can shorten the time to recovery and reduce mortality in the early phase of the infection.
  • Dexamethasone (cortisone) – for severe and critical courses of Covid-19 in the late phase of the infection. It has an anti-inflammatory effect and suppresses the immune system.
  • Actemra (tocilizumab) – this drug is used in combination with dexamethasone in severely ill patients and thus has an additional anti-inflammatory effect and suppresses the immune system.
  • Anticoagulants to prevent the formation of blood clots
  • Antibiotics if there is an indication of an additional bacterial infection or blood poisoning. These bacterial infections are very rare with COVID-19.
  • Monoclonal antibodies: Administered in the early phase or in severely immunocompromised patients, they should be able to prevent severe courses or lead to a faster recovery. Examples of these antibodies: bamlanivimab, combination of casirivimab/imdevimab
  • Artificial (invasive) ventilation – Doctors put their patient into an artificial coma and ventilate him or her via a breathing tube.
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) – in this high-tech procedure, intensive care physicians enrich the blood outside the body with oxygen and return it to the arteries. ECMO is suitable if there is a chance that the lungs will recover.
  • Convalescent plasma therapy: Doctors administer the antibodies of a recovered patient (convalescent plasma) via a plasma donation.

Scientists are researching other drugs that could help with Covid-19.

For patients

We will be happy to advise you on general infectiology questions in our consultation hours at the Clinic for Infectiology and Hospital Hygiene USZ. For medical clarifications, we recommend a consultation with your family doctor with a possible referral to us for more in-depth clarifications. These costs are usually covered by health insurance.

If you would like a telephone consultation for infectiological inquiries without a desired consultation, you can call our toll-free number (CHF 3.00/min. from the start of the consultation). These costs are not covered by health insurance, as it is purely a telephone advice service, not a medical consultation.

Tel. 0900 85 75 25

For referrer

Easily assign your patient online.

Tel. +41 44 255 33 22

Tel. +41 44 255 11 11 (at night, Sundays and public holidays)

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