The recent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic outbreak has caused a serious global health emergency. Supporting evidence shows that COVID-19 shares a genomic similarity with other coronaviruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and that the pathogenesis and treatment strategies that were applied 17 years ago in combating SARS-CoV and other viral infections could be taken as references in today’s antiviral battle. According to the clinical pathological features of COVID-19 patients, patients can suffer from five steps of progression, starting with severe viral infection and suppression of the immune system and eventually progressing to cytokine storm, multi-organ damage, and lung fibrosis, which is the cause of mortality. Therefore, early prevention of disease progression is important. However, no specific effective drugs and vaccination are currently available, and the World Health Organization is urging the development of novel prevention and treatment strategies. Traditional Chinese medicine could be used as an alternative treatment option or in combination with Western medicine to treat COVID-19, due to its basis on historical experience and holistic pharmacological action. Here, we summarize the potential uses and therapeutic mechanisms of Chinese herbal formulas (CHFs) from the reported literature, along with patent drugs that have been recommended by institutions at the national and provincial levels in China, in order to verify their scientific foundations for treating COVID-19. In perspective, more basic and clinical studies with multiple high-tech and translational technologies are suggested to further confirm the therapeutic efficacies of CHFs.
No therapeutics have been proven effective yet for the treatment of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). To assess the efficacy and safety of Triazavirin therapy for COVID-19, we conducted a randomized, double-blinded controlled trial involving hospitalized adult patients with COVID-19. Participants were enrolled from ten sites, and were randomized into two arms of the study with a ratio of 1:1. Patients were treated with Triazavirin 250 mg versus a placebo three or four times a day for 7 d. The primary outcome was set as the time to clinical improvement, defined as normalization of body temperature, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, cough, and absorption of pulmonary infection by chest computed tomography (CT) until 28 d after randomization. Secondary outcomes included individual components of the primary outcome, the mean time and proportion of inflammatory absorption in the lung, and the conversion rate to a repeated negative SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid test of throat swab sampling. Concomitant therapeutic treatments, adverse events, and serious adverse events were recorded. Our study was halted after the recruitment of 52 patients, since the number of new infections in the participating hospitals decreased greatly. We randomized 52 patients for treatment with Triazavirin (n = 26) or a placebo (n = 26). We found no differences in the time to clinical improvement (median, 7 d versus 12 d; risk ratio (RR), 2.0; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.7–5.6; p = 0.2), with clinical improvement occurring in ten patients in the Triazavirin group and six patients in the placebo group (38.5% versus 23.1%; RR, 2.1; 95% CI, 0.6–7.0; p = 0.2). All components of the primary outcome normalized within 28 d, with the exception of absorption of pulmonary infection (Triazavirin 50.0%, placebo 26.1%). Patients in the Triazavirin group used less frequent concomitant therapies for respiratory, cardiac, renal, hepatic, or coagulation supports. Although no statistically significant evidence was found to indicate that Triazavirin benefits COVID-19 patients, our observations indicated possible benefits from its use to treat COVID-19 due to its antiviral effects. Further study is required for confirmation.