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Treatments

There are some specific treatments available for COVID-19 and a vaccine has now been approved for use in Canada.

Last updated: February 9, 2021


Key points

  • Most people with COVID-19 will recover on their own. Please refer to our If you are sick page for more information about how to manage your symptoms when you have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • There are some specific treatments available for COVID-19 and the first vaccine was approved for use in Canada in December 2020. Learn more about the B.C. COVID-19 immunization program.
  • You can find the latest information about specific medications, drugs and vaccines below. 

Information about specific medications, drugs and vaccines

What treatments are available for COVID-19?

Most people with COVID-19 will recover on their own. Please refer to our If you are sick page for more information about how to manage your symptoms when you have been diagnosed with COVID-19. There are only two specific treatments available for hospitalized COVID-19 patients; Dexamethasone and Remdesivir.  Many clinical trials are currently underway, including in British Columbia – ask your doctor if any clinical trials are available in your area. To learn more, visit Health Canada’s Clinical Trials List or the Ongoing Clinical Trial Tracker.

Will the flu vaccine protect me against COVID-19?

No. The influenza (flu) vaccine does not protect against COVID-19. Please visit our Prevention and risks page to find ways to protect yourself against COVID-19.

Are antiviral medications like Tamiflu (oseltamivir) effective for preventing COVID-19?

No. There is currently no medication that is effective for preventing COVID-19. Tamiflu is used to treat and prevent influenza A and influenza B (flu). Coronaviruses like COVID-19 belong to a different family of viruses. There is no evidence that Tamiflu is effective against coronaviruses.

Are antibiotics effective in preventing or treating COVID-19?

No. Antibiotics only work for bacterial infections, not viruses. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work. Do not take antibiotics to prevent or treat COVID-19. Learn more about antibiotics at www.antibioticwise.ca.

Are there home remedies or complementary treatments to treat COVID-19?

While some home remedies may help with symptoms, there is no evidence that they can prevent or treat COVID-19.

Are steroids effective in preventing or treating COVID-19?

Studies have shown that steroids like dexamethasone (sometimes used for arthritis and other illnesses) and hydrocortisone may help reduce the chance of dying from COVID-19 in very ill COVID patients who need oxygen therapy or mechanical ventilation. If someone who sick with COVID-19 also has asthma or chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), they may receive steroids to help treat those conditions.

Are chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine effective for treating COVID-19?

No. Some initial studies suggested an effect in a test tube only. In human clinical trials, hydroxycholoquine has been clearly shown to NOT be effective in treating COVID-19.  Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are not recommended for the treatment of COVID-19 except in a clinical trial.

Is Remdesivir effective for treating COVID-19?

Remdesivir is an antiviral and has received conditional approval by Health Canada for the treatment of COVID-19. At this time, Remdesivir is available in British Columbia for hospitalized patients with COVID-19 requiring oxygen therapy but are NOT mechanically ventilated.  Remdesivir does not reduce your chance of dying or deteriorating to the point of requiring a mechanical ventilator.  It MAY reduce the duration of symptoms of patients with COVID-19 that require oxygen therapy.  The W.H.O. recommends against the use of remdesivir in ANY patient with COVID-19.  Long term safety and rare but important side effects of Remdesivir are currently unknown.  Patients and Physicians should discuss individual patient values and preferences before clinicians recommend treatment with Remdesivir.      

Are antiretrovirals like Lopinavir/Ritonavir (LPV/r) effective for treating COVID-19?

Lopinavir/Ritonavir (LPV/r) has been shown to NOT be effective in treating COVID-19.  Lopinavir/Ritonavir (LPV/r) are not recommended for the treatment of COVID-19.

Can high-dose Vitamin C help treat or prevent COVID-19?

No. There is no evidence that taking Vitamin C will help prevent infection with COVID-19. Health Canada says a daily intake of 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women is enough. You should not take more than 200 mg as it can cause side effects including diarrhea and nausea.

Should I stop taking angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-I) or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) if I have COVID-19?

No. You should not stop taking them because of COVID-19. The Canadian Cardiovascular Society, Hypertension Canada and the American Heart Association all recommend that patients should continue these drugs for managing heart disease or hypertension. 

Serious illness and recovery

Most people with COVID-19 recover within two weeks. Some people experience more severe illness from COVID-19 and take longer to recover. The Post COVID-19 Interdisciplinary Clinical Care Network provides resources specific to COVID-19 recovery and symptom management.


PHSA's Post COVID-19 Interdisciplinary Clinical Care Network aims to support the best possible outcomes for people who have experienced serious cases of COVID-19. Learn more about their work and find clinics where you can access care



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