How effective is the antiviral interferon-a2b treatment in COVID-19?

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Bottom Line:

Treatment with interferon-a2b antiviral therapy significantly reduced inflammatory proteins and increased viral clearance in patients with COVID-19.


Zhou, Q. et al. Interferon-α2b treatment for COVID-19. Frontiers in Immunology, (2020).

Date Published:

15 May 2020


With the absence of an approved vaccine against COVID-19, the effectiveness of various antiviral therapies is currently being investigated. One such therapy is interferon (IFN)-a2b, which was recently studied in a cohort of patients in Wuhan, China. In this preliminary study, 77 confirmed patients with COVID-19 were treated with either: IFN-a2b, arbidol (another antiviral agent) or a combination of IFN-a2b and arbidol. Patients receiving IFN-a2b alone or together with arbidol showed significant reductions in IL-6 (an inflammatory substance produced by the body) compared to arbidol alone. Additionally, these same patients showed an accelerated clearance of the virus relative to the arbidol only treatment. However, it is important to recognize several limitations of the study, particularly the small number of patients, non-randomized (meaning that allocation was decided and managed by the researchers) treatment groups, and differences in demographics between groups. Despite this, the findings suggest that there are therapeutic benefits with IFN-a2b in COVID-19, which warrants further evaluation of its efficacy in the disease.

Summary by: Edwin Wong