People with mild or moderate illness can usually manage their symptoms with supportive care at home, similar to care for the flu. This may include taking over-the-counter medications for fever, cough and pain, drinking plenty of fluids, using a humidifier and getting adequate rest.
In more severe cases, a person with COVID-19 may require hospitalization for more advanced care. This may involve breathing supplemental oxygen or, if patients can’t breathe on their own, the use of a ventilator machine.
There is one approved antiviral medication for COVID-19, remdesivir (Veklury), which is modestly effective for hospitalized patients. Several other drugs have shown activity against SARS-CoV-2 or related coronaviruses in laboratory and animal studies, and many clinical trials are underway.
Two monoclonal antibody regimens, bamlanivimab plus etesevimab and casirivimab plus imdevimab, have received emergency use authorization for COVID-19 treatment. Another option is convalescent plasma, which contains natural antibodies from people who have recovered from COVID-19. However, study results for these treatments have been inconsistent, and they may not work as well against new SARS-CoV-2 variants.
Because most people recover without treatment, it is important to compare new therapies against an inactive placebo or different medications to see which ones work best. Be cautious about rumors and overly optimistic information about treatments that have not yet been tested in randomized clinical trials.
The Infectious Diseases Society of America has produced Guidelines on the Treatment and Management of Patients with COVID-19. The recommendations are updated frequently to reflect new research.
Last Reviewed: April 29, 2021