COVID-19 Treatments

At Home

You can treat mild symptoms of COVID-19 at home with over-the-counter medicine and reduce the chances of viral spread with basic safety steps. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has guidance for at-home treatment of COVID-19.

From Your Doctor

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the use of two oral antiviral COVID-19 treatments. Not everyone who gets COVID-19 qualifies to receive these treatments.

  • The first treatment is a combination of two tablets called Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir and ritonavir). The two medicines are taken together twice a day for five days. This treatment should be started as soon as possible after symptoms begin.

  • The second treatment is a pill called Lagevrio (molnupiravir). It is taken twice a day for five days and should be started as soon as possible after symptoms begin.

If you have COVID-19 and are at high risk of severe illness, your doctor may recommend nirmatrelvir with ritonavir or molnupiravir. They may refer you to a clinical trial for a potential COVID-19 treatment. They may also prescribe medicine to help with your symptoms.

At the Hospital 

People with serious illness from COVID-19 should go to the hospital for treatment. The hospital may give treatments to: 

  • Slow the virus's spread through the body with antiviral medicines such as remdesivir. 

  • Calm the body’s immune system, which may overreact to the virus and worsen the disease. Overactive immune responses can damage organs and tissues. 

  • Treat complications to the body, such as in the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and brain. COVID-19 can also cause other complications. Patients who are hospitalized with serious COVID-19 illness might also be given blood thinners to prevent or treat blood clots. 

Know Your COVID-19 Treatment Options

If you or a loved one tests positive for COVID-19, you may have treatment options. 

Questions About COVID-19 Treatments

Are any of the COVID-19 treatments available for children?

Some COVID-19 treatments are available for children. Children age 12 years and older are authorized to receive nirmatrelvir with ritonavir. Remdesivir has been approved as a treatment for pediatric patients age 28 days and older.

If COVID-19 is treatable, do I need a vaccine?

Preventing COVID-19 is more effective than treating it. Vaccines protect people from getting infected or from becoming severely ill, and masks and social distancing help keep the virus from spreading.  

By getting vaccinated, you can also keep your loved ones safe. By wearing a mask and getting vaccinated, you are protecting the health of other people in your life and community who are at high risk of getting very sick or dying of COVID-19.  

Which COVID-19 treatments are effective? 

The FDA has approved or authorized several treatments for mild, moderate, and serious illness from COVID-19. There is a lot of misinformation online about COVID-19 treatments. Some proposed treatments have not been proven to be effective and could be dangerous. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has more information on the available treatment options for COVID-19

COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines 

The latest COVID-19 treatment guidelines, developed and updated regularly by a U.S. panel of experts.  

NIH COVID-19 Treatment Research

NIH’s Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) initiative has accelerated research on treatments for COVID-19 across several different treatment types. Here is some of the current research.  

Drugs to calm the immune system 

NIH is sponsoring studies to test the safety and effectiveness of immune modulators, which minimize the effects of an overactive immune system response that some COVID-19 patients experience. These studies aim to determine whether immune modulators can reduce the need for ventilators and shorten hospital stays. 

Antibodies to lessen the severity of COVID-19 

Clinical trials supported by NIH are being done to study the safety and effectiveness of monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies in both inpatient and outpatient settings. The studies are testing whether the treatments shorten the time to recovery and lessen respiratory and other problems from COVID-19 infection. 

Drugs to prevent blood clotting and tissue damage 

NIH-supported studies aim to determine whether medicines called blood thinners can treat adults diagnosed with COVID-19 and prevent life-threatening blood clots from forming. These studies focus on people who are diagnosed with COVID-19 and are hospitalized, as well as those who are recovering from COVID-19. 

Testing medicines already in use 

Studies are currently enrolling people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 to test the effectiveness of several different medications that are in late-stage clinical development. Other trials will test whether medicines used to treat other conditions could help treat COVID-19 in people with mild to moderate symptoms. 

Treatment Resources

HHS shares information about treatment options and clinical trials for COVID-19.

Clinical trials offer hope for patients while helping researchers find better treatments.

Page last updated: September 27, 2023