Outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 has been declared a pandemic, which is a serious threat to human health. The disease was named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Until now, several vaccines and a few drugs have been approved for the prevention and treatment for COVID-19. Recently, the effect of some macrolides including clarithromycin (CAM) on COVID-19 has attracted attention. CAM is known to have diverse effects including immunomodulatory and immunosuppressive effects, autophagy inhibition, steroid sparing effect, reversibility of drug resistance, antineoplastic effect, antiviral effect as well as bacteriostatic/bactericidal effect. Many patients with COVID-19 died due to an overwhelming response of their own immune system characterized by the uncontrolled release of circulating inflammatory cytokines (cytokine release syndrome [CRS]). This CRS plays a major role in progressing pneumonia to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in COVID-19 patients. It is noteworthy that CAM can suppress inflammatory cytokines responsible for CRS and also has anti-SARS-CoV-2 effect. Considering the rapidly progressive global disease burden of COVID 19, the application of CAM for treating COVID-19 needs to be urgently evaluated. Recently, an open-labeled non-randomized trial using CAM for treating COVID-19 (ACHIEVE) was initiated in Greece in May, 2020. Its results, though preprint, indicated that CAM treatment of patients with moderate COVID-19 was associated with early clinical improvement and containment of viral load. Thus, treatment with CAM as a single agent or combined with other anti-SARS CoV-2 drugs should be tried for treating COVID-19. In this article, we discussed the significance and usefulness of CAM in treating COVID-19.
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