There is no specific, effective treatment or cure for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Thus, the cornerstone of management of COVID-19 is supportive care, which includes treatment to relieve symptoms, fluid therapy, oxygen support and prone positioning as needed, and medications or devices to support other affected vital organs.
Most cases of COVID-19 are mild. In these, supportive care includes medication such as paracetamol or NSAIDs to relieve symptoms (fever, body aches, cough), proper intake of fluids, rest, and nasal breathing. Good personal hygiene and a healthy diet are also recommended. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that those who suspect they are carrying the virus isolate themselves at home and wear a face mask.
People with more severe cases may need treatment in hospital. In those with low oxygen levels, use of the glucocorticoid dexamethasone is strongly recommended, as it can reduce the risk of death. Noninvasive ventilation and, ultimately, admission to an intensive care unit for mechanical ventilation may be required to support breathing. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) has been used to address the issue of respiratory failure, but its benefits are still under consideration.
Several experimental treatments are being actively studied in clinical trials. Others were thought to be promising early in the pandemic, such as hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir, but later research found them to be ineffective or even harmful. Despite ongoing research, there is still not enough high-quality evidence to recommend so-called early treatment. Nevertheless, in the United States, two monoclonal antibody-based therapies are available for early use in cases thought to be at high risk of progression to severe disease. The antiviral remdesivir is available in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and several other countries, with varying restrictions; however, it is not recommended for people needing mechanical ventilation, and is discouraged altogether by the World Health Organization (WHO), due to limited evidence of its efficacy.
Preventive measures to reduce the chances of infection include staying at home, wearing a mask in public, avoiding crowded places, keeping distance from others, ventilating indoor spaces, washing hands with soap and water often and for at least 20 seconds, practising good respiratory hygiene, and avoiding touching the eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
Those diagnosed with COVID-19 or who believe they may be infected are advised by the CDC to stay home except to get medical care, call ahead before visiting a healthcare provider, wear a face mask before entering the healthcare provider's office and when in any room or vehicle with another person, cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, regularly wash hands with soap and water and avoid sharing personal household items.
The first COVID-19 vaccine was granted regulatory approval on 2 December by the UK medicines regulator MHRA. It was evaluated for emergency use authorization (EUA) status by the US FDA, and in several other countries.Initially, the US National Institutes of Health guidelines do not recommend any medication for prevention of COVID-19, before or after exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, outside the setting of a clinical trial.Without a vaccine, other prophylactic measures, or effective treatments, a key part of managing COVID-19 is trying to decrease and delay the epidemic peak, known as "flattening the curve".This is done by slowing the infection rate to decrease the risk of health services being overwhelmed, allowing for better treatment of current cases, and delaying additional cases until effective treatments or a vaccine become available