Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2021 Jan 30. doi: 10.1007/s00253-021-11094-4. Online ahead of print.
The anti-malarial drugs chloroquine (CQ) and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) have been suggested as promising agents against the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 that induces COVID-19 and as a possible therapy for shortening the duration of the viral disease. The antiviral effects of CQ and HCQ have been demonstrated in vitro due to their ability to block viruses like coronavirus SARS in cell culture. CQ and HCQ have been proposed to reduce immune reactions to infectious agents, inhibit pneumonia exacerbation, and improve lung imaging investigations. CQ analogs have also revealed the anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects in treating viral infections and related ailments. There was, moreover, convincing evidence from early trials in China about the efficacy of CQ and HCQ in the anti-COVID-19 procedure. Since then, research and studies have been massive to ascertain these drugs' efficacy and safety in treating the viral disease. In the present review, we construct a synopsis of the main properties and current data concerning the metabolism of CQ/HCQ, which were the basis of assessing their potential therapeutic roles against the new coronavirus infection. The effective role of QC and HCQ in the prophylaxis and therapy of COVID-19 infection is discussed in light of the latest international medical-scientific research results. KEY POINTS: • Data concerning metabolism and properties of CQ/HCQ are discussed. • The efficacy of CQ/HCQ against COVID-19 has been the subject of contradictory results. • CQ/HCQ has little or no effect in reducing mortality in SARS-CoV-2-affected patients.