COVID-19 Transmission, Current Treatment, and Future Therapeutic Strategies

Vrishali S. Salian, Jessica A. Wright, Peter T. Vedell, Sanjana Nair, Chenxu Li, Mahathi Kandimalla, Xiaojia Tang, Eva M. Carmona Porquera, Krishna R. Kalari, Karunya K. Kandimalla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

176 Scopus citations


At the stroke of the New Year 2020, COVID-19, a zoonotic disease that would turn into a global pandemic, was identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Although unique in its transmission and virulence, COVID-19 is similar to zoonotic diseases, including other SARS variants (e.g., SARS-CoV) and MERS, in exhibiting severe flu-like symptoms and acute respiratory distress. Even at the molecular level, many parallels have been identified between SARS and COVID-19 so much so that the COVID-19 virus has been named SARS-CoV-2. These similarities have provided several opportunities to treat COVID-19 patients using clinical approaches that were proven to be effective against SARS. Importantly, the identification of similarities in how SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 access the host, replicate, and trigger life-threatening pathological conditions have revealed opportunities to repurpose drugs that were proven to be effective against SARS. In this article, we first provided an overview of COVID-19 etiology vis-à-vis other zoonotic diseases, particularly SARS and MERS. Then, we summarized the characteristics of droplets/aerosols emitted by COVID-19 patients and how they aid in the transmission of the virus among people. Moreover, we discussed the molecular mechanisms that enable SARS-CoV-2 to access the host and become more contagious than other betacoronaviruses such as SARS-CoV. Further, we outlined various approaches that are currently being employed to diagnose and symptomatically treat COVID-19 in the clinic. Finally, we reviewed various approaches and technologies employed to develop vaccines against COVID-19 and summarized the attempts to repurpose various classes of drugs and novel therapeutic approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)754-771
Number of pages18
JournalMolecular pharmaceutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:


  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • therapeutic strategies
  • transmission
  • vaccines


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