A pharmacological perspective of chloroquine in SARS-CoV-2 infection: An old drug for the fight against a new coronavirus?

Teodoro J. Oscanoa, Roman Romero-Ortuno, Alfonso Carvajal, Andrea Savarino

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34 Scopus citations


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is having serious consequences on health and the economy worldwide. All evidence-based treatment strategies need to be considered to combat this new virus. Drugs need to be considered on scientific grounds of efficacy, safety and cost. Chloroquine (CQ) and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) are old drugs used in the treatment of malaria. Moreover, their antiviral properties have been previously studied, including against coronaviruses, where evidence of efficacy has been found. In the current race against time triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the search for new antivirals is very important. However, consideration should be given to old drugs with known anti-coronavirus activity, such as CQ and HCQ. These could be integrated into current treatment strategies while novel treatments are awaited, also in light of the fact that they display an anticoagulant effect that facilitates the activity of low-molecular-weight heparin, aimed at preventing acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)-associated thrombotic events. The safety of CQ and HCQ has been studied for over 50 years, however recently published data raise concerns for cardiac toxicity of CQ/HCQ in patients with COVID-19. This review also re-examines the real information provided by some of the published alarming reports, although concluding that cardiac toxicity should in any case be stringently monitored in patients receiving CQ/HCQ.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106078
JournalInternational Journal of Antimicrobial Agents
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Antiviral
  • COVID-19
  • Chloroquine
  • Hydroxychloroquine
  • SARS-CoV-2


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