Repurposing existing medications for coronavirus disease 2019: protocol for a rapid and living systematic review

Benjamin P. Geisler, Lara Zahabi, Adam Edward Lang, Naomi Eastwood, Elaine Tennant, Ljiljana Lukic, Elad Sharon, Hai Hua Chuang, Chang Berm Kang, Knakita Clayton-Johnson, Ahmed Aljaberi, Haining Yu, Chinh Bui, Tuan Le Mau, Wen Cheng Li, Debbie Teodorescu, Ludwig Christian Hinske, Dennis L. Sun, Farrin A. Manian, Adam G. Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has no confirmed specific treatments. However, there might be in vitro and early clinical data as well as evidence from severe acute respiratory syndrome and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome that could inform clinicians and researchers. This systematic review aims to create priorities for future research of drugs repurposed for COVID-19. Methods: This systematic review will include in vitro, animal, and clinical studies evaluating the efficacy of a list of 34 specific compounds and 4 groups of drugs identified in a previous scoping review. Studies will be identified both from traditional literature databases and pre-print servers. Outcomes assessed will include time to clinical improvement, time to viral clearance, mortality, length of hospital stay, and proportions transferred to the intensive care unit and intubated, respectively. We will use the GRADE methodology to assess the quality of the evidence. Discussion: The challenge posed by COVID-19 requires not just a rapid review of drugs that can be repurposed but also a sustained effort to integrate new evidence into a living systematic review. Trial registration: PROSPERO 2020 CRD42020175648

Original languageEnglish
Article number143
Number of pages5
JournalSystematic Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • MERS-CoV
  • Middle East respiratory syndrome Coronavirus
  • Repurposed
  • Repurposing
  • SARS
  • SARS-CoV2
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome


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