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Coronavirus Information

Last updated: 22nd May 2020

Given the novelty of SARS-CoV-2 infection (COVID-19), and the lack of proven therapies, a wide variety of strategies are being employed to combat this worldwide epidemic. Many of these emerging strategies rely on repurposing existing drugs, and others are completely new, but all rely on existing scientific evidence of mechanistic approaches that are effective against either similar viral infections or the serious symptoms that are caused by COVID-19.

  • The effects of existing antiviral medications are being evaluated
  • The inflammatory aspects of the disease are being targeted using existing medications including glucocorticoids, COX inhibitors, immunosuppressants and immunomodulators
  • Strategies to block interaction between the virus and ACE2 on host cells, or inhibition of spike protein activation are being explored
  • Novel inhibitors of the main CoV protease are being developed
  • Mucolytic drugs and drugs to counter pulmonary edema are in clinical trials

All of these tactics are intended to mitigate against COVID-19 and provide a window during which vaccine development can progress (with the caveat that the search for vaccines to prevent infection by existing circulating coronaviruses has been notoriously unsuccessful). The tables provide information gathered from various sources, and aim to cover as many of the pharmacological strategies being considered as we could find. Our ligands (therapeutics) table excludes traditional natural product-based medicines, blood-derived products (e.g. serum from recovered patients and stem cells), investigational vaccines, antibacterials for secondary infections and supportive treatments (oxygen therapy).

NEW: Our manuscript "A Rational Roadmap for SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 Pharmacotherapeutic Research and Development" is now published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, PubMed ID: 32358833

The information included here should not be construed as endorsement by the University of Edinburgh, IUPHAR, BPS or the individuals connected with the Guide to Pharmacology database and website. This is a rapidly moving situation, so we make no claim that these are exhaustive lists, but we have tried to provide as accurate information as is available. Our pages for the ligands (therapeutics) and molecular targets in these tables which are in the Guide to Pharmacology have been updated to include literature references and/or links to additional materials. We continue to curate COVID19-related data into our development database, therefore the links in the tables may use alternative public links until the next database release.

Read the statement from the IUPHAR Clinical Division in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Cite this page

The information on this page is curated by the GtoPdb curation team at the University of Edinburgh. If the information is useful to you, please cite it using the following format:
Faccenda E, Armstrong JF, Davenport AP, Harding SD, Pawson AJ, Southan C & Davies JA. ([date retrieved]). Coronavirus Information. IUPHAR/BPS Guide to Pharmacology. Retrieved from

This work is supported by the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR) & the British Pharmacological Society (BPS).
To cite the IUPHAR/BPS Guide to Pharmacology more generally please refer to our citation page.

Ligands relevant to SARS-CoV-2(COVID-19) - ligand name links to detailed information in GtoPdb, or to our pre-release blog.
Ligand (Therapeutic) Ligand ID Comments
Abl kinase inhibitors (e.g. imatinib) 5687 Abelson kinase (Abl) inhibitors are reported to block Spike protein-induced SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV fusion in vitro PMID: 29557770, potentially by blocking Abl2 at the endosomal membrane PMID: 27466418. It will be informative to determine if this holds true for SARS-CoV-2, and whether re-purposing of imatinib and/or newer Abl kinase inhibitors (dasatinib; bosutinib) could be a viable strategy against COVID-19. Likely to be most effective during the early stage of infection.
ACE2 ligands n/a ACE2 ligands that block the site of viral spike protein interaction could offer anti-SARS-CoV-2 infection potential. In hypertensive COVID-19 patients maintained on ACE2 inhibitor therapy whilst hospitalised, ACE2 inhibitors are reported to reduce all-cause mortality compared to patients with hypertension not on ACE inhibitors PMID: 32302265. But we need to be cognisant that the protective effects may not be evident in COVID-19 patients with normal blood pressure, and that a proper controlled clinical trial is needed before drawing firm conclusions.
anakinra 6972 An approved IL-1 pathway blocking peptide, that has anti-inflammatory action.
anti-TNF therapy (e.g. infliximab, adalimumab and others) 5004, 4860 The case for re-purposing approved anti-TNF biologic therapies as a means to combat cytokine storm and inflammation in COVID-19 patients is presented in PMID: 32278362.
apilimod 9895 A clinical stage inhibitor of the type III phosphoinostol kinase, PIKfyve. Anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity in vitro
ASC09F n/a A combination drug containing ASC09 (a viral protease inhibitor) + ritonavir is an example of an existing HIV therapy being repurposed for COVID-19.
AZD7986 (INS1007, brensocatib 9412 AZD7986 inhibits activation of neutrophil elastase via direct inhibition of dipeptidyl peptidase 1, that is being investigated as a treament for neutrophilic lung inflammation. It has been shown to produce on-target effects in healthy trial volunteers (PMID: 29484635). Plans are underway to examine the potential of AZD7986 (now being progressed by Insmed as INS1007) to treat COVID-19-related acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), in the UK STOP-COVID19 clinical trial. The INS1007 arm of the study aims to administer the drug to 150 COVID-19 patients (plus 150 in the placebo arm) across 10 UK hospitals.
baricitinib 7792 Approved JAK1/2 inhibitor. AI predicts antiviral activity via inhibition of AAK1 which is an important regulator of clathrin-mediated endocytosis, so has potential to inhibit viral entry into host cells in addition to its potent anti-inflammatory efficacy.
β-D-N4-hydroxycytidine 10735 Preliminary evidence from a BioRxiv preprint ( indicate that NHC/EIDD-2801 exhibits broad spectrum antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2, MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and related zoonotic group 2b or 2c Bat-CoVs. The potency of NHC/EIDD-2801 against multiple coronaviruses, its therapeutic efficacy, and oral bioavailability in vivo, all highlight its potential utility as an effective antiviral against SARS-CoV-2 and other future zoonotic coronaviruses.
bevacizumab 6771 Approved anti-VEGFA mAb. Phase 2/3 NCT04275414 aims to determine if suppression of vascular permeability will reduce pulmonary edema in patients with severe/critical COVID-19.
brincidofovir n/a Small-molecule nucleoside analogue antiviral drug that was developed to treat cytomegalovirus, adenovirus, smallpox, and ebolavirus infections. Potential against SARS-CoV-2 infection could be evaluated.
camostat 6432 Serine protease inhibitor with activity against the host TMPRSS2 protease that is exploited by SARS-CoV-2 to mediate viral entry.
camrelizumab 9758 An anti-PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor approved in China as an immuno-oncology biologic. Being compared to thymosin for the prevention of sepsis in COVID-19 patients.
ciclesonide 7469 Ciclesonide (an approved corticosteroid used to treat respiratory inflammation) can inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication via inhibition of viral nsp15 (bioRxiv preprint article Matsuyama et al. (2020)
compound 11r 10706 This is a compound that inhibits the SARS-CoV main protease (Mpro), and has potential to inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 Mpro, structural similarities between the 2 enzymes permitting. X-ray structure of 11r bound to SARS-CoV Mpro is deposited with the RSCB Protein Databank (ID 5N5O).
compound 13b 10720 A more drug-like derivative of 11r (10706) that inhibits the SARS-CoV-2 main protease (Mpro) PMID: 32198291. Exhibits potential for direct delivery to the lungs via inhalation route.
conestat alfa (Ruconest®) n/a Conestat alfa is an approved drug. It is a recombinat version of human C1 esterase inhibitor protein, that was designed to modulate the inflammatory response mediated via the complement system. Its developer, Pharming Group N.V., has reported preliminary results of successful treatment of 5 severe COVID-19 patients with conestat alfa (albeit with no placebo group). Pharming's press release (of 21 April 2020) indicates that a multinational RCT in a larger number of patients is being planned
darunavir + cobicistat n/a; 7535 Antiretroviral, protease inhibitor. Cobicistat increases its bioavailability and half life. Phase 3 NCT04252274 for COVID-19
eculizumab 6884 Approved mAb that binds complement factor C5 and blocks membrane attack complex formation.
EIDD-2801 10737 A novel, orally bioavailable RNA-dependent RNA polymerase inhibitor, that targets replication of RNA viruses PMID: 32253226. Being advanced to clinical trials in the UK and US.
emapalumab 9295 An approved anti-IFNγ mAb, which could target elevated cytokine production during COVID-19 infection.
emtricitabine + tenofovir n/a NRTI/NtRTI anti-HIV combination that could be repurposed for COVID-19.
enoxaparin 6811 An approved anti-clotting agent. Given evidence of heparin as a potential attachment factor for the coronavirus, a trial to determine the efficacy of early treatment with enoxaparin in COVID-19 patients has been initiated in Italy (March 2020).
favipiravir n/a Small-molecule nucleoside analogue antiviral drug with broad spectrum activity against RNA viruses. A generic version was authorised for marketing by the Chinese National Medical Products Administration in Feb 2020, and can be used for prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Two clinical studies are registered on
fingolimod 2407 An approved S1P1 receptor inhibitor that has immunomodulatory/immunosuppresant actions. This could be applied to the management of the inflammatory aspects of COVID-19. Clinical efficacy will be evaluated in Phase 2 study NCT04280588.
galidesivir n/a Viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase inhibitor that was originally developed for HCV, EBV, Zika and Marburg virus infections, but also examined for activity against infection by other RNA viruses. Coverage expanded in 2020 to include infections by SARS-CoV-2.
gimsilumab 9624 An anti-GM-CSF (CSF2) mAb currently in clinical trial for anti-inflammatory potential in the treatment of autoimmune inflammation and cancer. Has been repurposed for deranged inflammation in COVID-19 (Phase 2, NCT04351243).
GLS-5300 n/a A Phase 1 MERS vaccine.
hydroxychloroquine 7198 An existing antimalarial drug, with in vitro activity against SARS-CoV (PMID: 16640347), that is being repositioned to treat COVID-19. Preliminary evidence from a small cohort of COVID-19 patients suggests that a combination of hydroxychloroquine + the antibiotic azithromycin significantly reduces detectable viral RNA (compared to hydroxychloroquine alone or placebo; In press 17 March 2020 IJAA DOI : 10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2020.105949). However, extreme caution must be taken when considering using hydroxychloroquine as it has severe cardiac adverse effects, and in addition its distribution to lung tissue is unknown. Read Derek Lowe's 'In the PIPELINE' blog which provides a systematic and considered anaylsis of the (lack of) potential for hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine for COVID-19.
I-432 10733 An in vitro tool compound; inhibitor of serine protease TMPRSS2.
IC14 n/a IC14 is a chimeric mAb directed against human CD14. Because of its key role in amplifying the immune response, CD14 has been targeted for pharmacological modulation. In April 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Implicit initiated a clinical trial (NCT04346277) to investigate the potential of CD14 modulation as a mechanism to mitigate against cytokine storm and ARDS in patients with this potentially deadly disease.
interferon beta-1A n/a Recombinant formulations of IFN-beta are used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS), so safety has been established. IFN-beta is a key modulator of immune defence against viruses. The coronavirus seems to suppress production of types I and III IFNs (IFN-beta is a type I IFN) as part of its strategy to evade immune detection and destruction (Blanco-Melo et al., 2020 In press. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.04.026). Administering exogenous IFN-beta directly to the lungs is predicted to re-engage the anti-viral immune response to SARS-CoV-2.
leronlimab 10752 A clinical stage anti-CCR5 mAb with immunomodulatory potential. Being evaluated in Ph2 clinical trials in COVID-19 patients as a strategy to reduce cytokine storm and related pathophysiological sequelae.
MDL-28170 10745 Anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity in vitro
meplazumab n/a An anti-CD147 (basigin, BSG) mAb. SARS-CoV-2 may utilise CD147 as an additional entry receptor to infect host cells. Meplazumab can block the interaction between CD147 and SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (bioRxiv preprint article, Wang et al. (2020) Already under clinical evaluation in NCT04275245.
mucolytic drugs 10692 Ambroxol is an approved mucolytic which has the potential to combat pulmonary congestion in numerous lung conditions.
nafamostat 4262 A protease inhibitor approved in Japan. Now being evaluated in combination with favipiravir in a RCT in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia (clinical trial number jRCTs031200026). Nafamostat is being proposed to reduce SARS-CoV-2 entry by inhibiting the host protease TMPRSS2 [PMID:27550352], and to additionally counteract COVID-19-associated thrombosis via its established anticoagulant activity.
ONO-5334 10747 Anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity in vitro
otamixaban 10732 A direct serine protease factor Xa inhibitor, and failed anticoagulant candidate drug; predicted binding energy when virtually docked with TMPRSS2; associated with bleeding-related adverse effects in clinical study.
PRD_002214 10716 PRD_002214 is a viral main protease inhibitor. It has been crystalised in complex with the SARS-CoV-2 Mpro (RCSB Protein Databank ID 6LU7).
recombinant ACE2 protein (rhACE2) n/a NCT04287686 aims to determine if rhACE2 can act as a decoy for SARS-CoV-2 viruses via engagement of the virus's external spike protein.
recombinant coronavirus S (spike) protein n/a Recombinant spike protein would be predicted to occupy the ACE2 binding site and out-compete S protein on live virus particles to reduce viral infection of host cells. Although note that phase 1 clinical trial NCT01376765 that was looking at SARS-CoV S protein was withdrawn.
recombinant human Type I interferons n/a For example IFNalpha2a (Roferon A), IFNalpha2a (Pegasys) and others, which are already used as antiviral therapies could be applied to COVID-19. IFNs are being evaluated either alone or in various combinations with lopinavir/ritonavir and ribavirin
REGN3051 and REGN3048 n/a A mixture of monoclonal antibodies that target the spike protein of MERS-CoV. Contingent upon similarities within the antigenic sites these may have potential to bind SARS-CoV-2. Progressed as Phase 1 anti-coronavirus clinical lead; NCT03301090 has been completed.
relacatib 7862 Developed as a cathepsin K inhibitor but has activity against cathepsin L that may provide potential to block SARS-Cov-2 entry into host cells.
remdesivir 10715 Nucleotide analogue antiviral with broad-spectrum activity against RNA viruses. Used on compassionate grounds to treat the first SARS-CoV-2 +ve patient in the US. Phase 3 trial NCT04292899 to be carried out in patients with severe COVID-19 is in preparation. Derek Lowe provides a systematic and considered anaylsis of the potential for remdesivir in COVID-19 via his 'In the PIPELINE' blog , Results from China in late April 2020 detected no significant clinical efficacy, but the investigators noted that remdesivir reduced time to clinical improvement (published in The Lancet DOI: This effect of accelerating recovery appears to have been replicated in a NIH-sponsored trial, but results have not been formally published.
remdesivir + chloroquine 10715; 5535 Effectively inhibits a clinical isolate of SARS-CoV-2 in vitro PMID: 32020029
ribavirin + ritonavir 6842; 8804 Anti-HIV combination that could be repurposed for COVID-19.
ritonavir + lopinavir 8804; n/a NCT04295551. Update: No significant benefit from ritonavir + lopinavir treatment (compared to standard therapy) was observed in patients with severe COVID-19 (results reported for Chinese trial ChiCTR2000029308 in NEJM 18/03/2020 PMID: 32187464)
ruxolitinib 5688 An approved anti-inflammatory JAK1/2/TYK2 inhibitor. Under clinical evaluation for Covid-19 (in combination with mesenchymal stem cell infusion)
sarilumab 7999 Approved immunosuppressive anti-IL-6 receptor mAb. Four COVID-19 trials underway as of March 30 2020, including the French open-label CORIMUNO-SARI study NCT04324073.
selinexor 10036 An approved drug that acts as a selective inhibitor of nuclear export (SINE). SINE compounds have been shown to disrupt the replication of multiple viruses in vitro and in vivo and to mediate anti-inflammatory and anti-viral effects in animal models. In respect of SARS-CoV-2, SINE compounds have been reported to exhibit potential to interfere with interactions between viral proteins and key host proteins [PMID:32353859]. Based on this in vitro observation, low-dose selinexor has been advanced to Phase 2 investigation in patients with severe COVID-19 (NCT04349098).
sirolimus 6031 An approved immunosuppressive drug. Sirolimus inhibits MERS-CoV infection of human liver cells in vitro; may be applicable to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
thalidomide 7327 Thalidomide + low-dose glucocorticoid, and thalidomide + celecoxib are two approaches being evaluated for clinical efficacy in patients with severe COVID-19. These combine the immunosuppressive action of thalidomide with the anti-inflammatory actions of glucocorticoids and COX inhibition respectively. See NCT04273529 and NCT04273581 as examples.
tocilizumab 6881 Approved immunosuppressive anti-IL-6 receptor mAb. China's National Health Commission has authorised its use to treat patients with serious COVID-19-induced lung damage, and results have been posted on the preprint server of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. (ChinaXiv),, DOI: 10.12074/202003.00026. Phase 2 trial TOCIVID-19 (NCT04317092) is underway in Italy.
umifenovir (Arbidol) n/a A broad-spectrum antiviral drug used to treat influenza infection in Russia and China; not FDA approved.
YBY-825 10746 Anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity in vitro
Targets relevant to SARS-CoV-2(COVID-19) - target name links to detailed information in GtoPdb.
Target Target ID Comments
ACE2 1614 Anchoring or binding site on host cells that is exploited by some betacoronaviruses for viral entry. Engaged by SARS-CoV-2 spike protein as the first step towards infection of host cells.
TMPRSS2 2421 Involved in the activation of viral glycoproteins/viral entry across a range of viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. SARS-CoV-2 entry is partially blocked in vitro by the protease inhibitor camostat.
SARS-CoV-2 main protease, (MPro; 3C-like proteinase; nsp5) 3111 Inhibitors of this viral protease have the potential to block cleavage of nascent viral proteins as they are synthesised in host cells.
CD147 (basigin, HGNC:1116) n/a SARS-CoV-2 may utilise CD147 as an additional entry receptor to infect host cells. The anti-CD147 mAb, meplazumab, can block the interaction between CD147 and SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (bioRxiv preprint article, Wang et al. (2020) Already under clinical evaluation in NCT04275245.

Useful Publications

A SARS-CoV-2-Human Protein-Protein Interaction Map Reveals Drug Targets and Potential Drug-Repurposing
This is an outstanding and comprehensive report that identifies interactions between SARS-CoV-2 proteins and human host proteins (the SARS-CoV-2 interactome), and explores the potential for existing FDA drugs to modulate these interactions (either by direct human protein interaction, or with interactions within associated pathways and complexes). Gordon DE, Jang GM, Bouhaddou M, et al. A SARS-CoV-2 protein interaction map reveals targets for drug repurposing [published online ahead of print, 2020 Apr 30]. Nature. 2020;10.1038/s41586-020-2286-9. doi:10.1038/s41586-020-2286-9. PubMed ID: 32353859

Targets of T cell responses to SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in humans with COVID-19 disease and unexposed individuals. Grifoni et al. 2020. Cell. DOI:10.1016/j.cell.2020.05.015. Published May 14, 2020

COVID-19 and the cardiovascular system: Zheng et al 2020 Nat Rev Cardiol. PubMed ID: 32139904

Surviving Sepsis Campaign: Guidelines on the Management of Critically Ill Adults With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Alhazzani et al 2020 Intensive Care Med. PubMed ID: 32222812

SARS-CoV-2 Cell Entry Depends on ACE2 and TMPRSS2 and Is Blocked by a Clinically Proven Protease Inhibitor. Hoffmann et al. (2020) Cell [Online ahead of print]. PubMed ID: 32142651

Structure, Function, and Antigenicity of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Glycoprotein. Walls AC et al. (2020) Cell [Online ahead of print]. PubMed ID: 32155444

Structure of Mpro from COVID-19 virus and discovery of its inhibitors. Jin Z et al. (2020) Nature.

Other Useful Resources

Additional Reading / Blogs

We published a brief update on coronaviruses in February on our blog.

Dr. Chris Southan's blog: We predicteth too much, methinks

Dr. Chris Southan's blog: Opening up COVID-19 medicinal chemistry

In the Pipeline by Derek Lowe: Good News on the Human Immune Response to the Coronavirus (15th May 2020). Explains the significance of this Cell CD4+ T cell paper

In the Pipeline by Derek Lowe: Hydroxychloroquine: Enough Already? (22nd May 2020).


The IUPHAR Coronavirus News page contains IUPHAR's official response to COVID-19, as well links to many important pharmacology resources.

Read the statement from the IUPHAR Clinical Division in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

British Pharmacological Society

The British Pharmacological Society COVID-19 Hub provides very useful links and resources for the community. This includes a specific page on trusted resources and information, which includes info on research hubs, journals and publications.

World Health Organisation

WHO: Global research on coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

British Society for Immunology

The British Society for Immunology provides an excellent "Connect on Coronavirus" information hub with updates and resources for the immunology community during the Coronavirus outbreak

Connect on Coronavirus: resources provides a useful set of key resources

British Medical Journal

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Latest news and resources from the BMJ:

BMJ Best Practice - COVID-19:

Comments on ACE inhibitors and COVID-19; BMJ Rapid Responses to John Watkins’ editorial ‘Preventing a covid-19 pandemic’

Latest Coronavirus (COVID-19) research information from NIH:

Biocentury article: New vaccines and other therapeutics against COVID-19 that are in development- lists compiled by Biocentury and updated daily.

Live meta-analysis and scrutiny of evidence for all clinical studies that are investigating potential therapeutics for COVID-19

Link to current full list of studies at

Links to resources commenting on repurposing efforts

Coronavirus puts drug repurposing on the fast track (Harrison C, Nature 27 Feb 2020)

Landscape analysis of therapeutics as 17 February 2020 (by the WHO)

Protein Data Bank in Europe - structures for 'severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2'

PDBe structures (Organism = severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2)


UniProt release 2020-01 news

SARS-CoV-2 protein sequences from the current public health emergency have been annotated in UniProtKB and made available as a pre-release dataset on the UniProt FTP site. These entries will be available in the usual file formats as part of release 2020_02 (22 April 2020)

UniProt COVID-19 portal - for pre-release SARS-CoV-2 and receptor proteins

European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI)

EMBL-EBI COVID-19 Data Portal - enables the sharing and analysis of data related to the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. The initiative aims to facilitate international collaboration to accelerate scientific discovery, monitor the pandemic and help develop treatments and a vaccine for the new coronavirus.

Diagnostics pipeline

The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND; in collaboration with the WHO) are conducting an intense programme of work to evaluate new diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 when asked to do so by manufacturers. Their COVID-19 page provides the latest information and up to date recommendations for laboratory testing.