The problem of the use of interferons in the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19 (Coronaviridae: Coronavirinae: Betacoronavirus: Sarbecovirus)

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By the end of 2021, about 200 studies on the effect of interferons (IFNs) on the incidence and course of the new coronavirus infection COVID-19 (Coronaviridae: Coronavirinae: Betacoronavirus: Sarbecovirus) have been reported worldwide, with the number of such studies steadily increasing. This review discusses the main issues of the use of IFN drugs in this disease. The literature search was carried out in the PubMed, Scopus, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, RSCI databases, as well as in the Google Scholar preprint database using the available search queries «MeSH for coronavirus», «SARS-CoV-2», «IFN drugs», and «COVID-19». Interferon therapy is indicated for early administration (within the first 5 days of patient admission) in cases of mild to moderate COVID-19 to take advantage of the narrow therapeutic window of IFNs action. Control and suppression of viral replication requires therapy with IFNs and other effective antiviral agents that inhibit the reproduction of SARS-CoV-2 and induce several interferon-stimulated genes (ISG). Type I IFNs (IFN-I) exhibit potent pro-inflammatory properties and activate a wide variety of different cell types that respond to IFNs stimulation and pathogen entry. IFN-III confer local mucosal antiviral immunity without inducing the strong systemic pro-inflammatory responses associated with IFN-I. The use of IFNs drugs in the therapy of new coronavirus infection requires a cautious and differentiated approach, because in severe cases they can aggravate viral pathogenesis by causing excessive intensity of inflammatory reactions. The unique biological properties of substances of this class allow us to consider them as therapeutic agents with significant potential for use in patients with COVID-19.

About the authors

F. I. Ershov

FSBI «National Research Centre for Epidemiology and Microbiology named after the honorary academician N.F. Gamaleya» of the Ministry of Health of Russia

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4780-7560

Felix I. Ershov, - Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor, Chief Researcher 

Moscow, 123098

eLIBRARY SPIN 3076-4864


Russian Federation

A. N. Narovlyansky

FSBI «National Research Centre for Epidemiology and Microbiology named after the honorary academician N.F. Gamaleya» of the Ministry of Health of Russia


Alexander N. Narovlyansky, - Doctor of Biological Sciences, Professor, Chief Researcher, Head of Laboratory

Moscow, 123098

eLIBRARY SPIN 9015-5536

Russian Federation


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