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Treatments

There are no vaccines for COVID-19 yet. But many clinical trials are underway.

Last updated: November 27, 2020 at 9:45 AM


You may have questions about what medications your doctor can prescribe to treat COVID-19. Right now, there are some specific treatments available for COVID-19 but no approved vaccines or preventative medications for COVID-19 at this time. However, researchers are working hard to better understand COVID-19 and develop treatments and vaccines.

You can find information about specific medications, drugs and vaccines below. This can help you understand what’s true or false online about COVID-19 treatment.

Most people with COVID-19 will recover on their own. Please refer to our page for more details on how to manage if you have COVID-19.

Information about specific medications, drugs and vaccines

What treatments are available for 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 are available to you.  We will keep you up to date on the results from these trials. 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.but it can help prevent influenza. This year, it’s more important than ever to protect ourselves and others around us from influenza, especially those who may be more likely to develop severe illness that would put them in hospital. The flu vaccine will not increase your risk of getting 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 have shown to reduce the chance of dying and other clinical improvements in very ill COVID patients requiring oxygen therapy or mechanical ventilation. As well, if someone sick with COVID-19 also has asthma or chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), they may receive steroids to 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.

Are antivirals like Remdesivir effective for treating COVID-19?

Remdesivir 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 but who are not 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 WHO recommends against the use of Remdesivir in hospitalized patients 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. 


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