Publication date: Jan 18, 2024
This study aimed to explore the efficacy and safety of small-molecule antivirals for treating coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Seven databases were searched from their inception to June 1, 2023. The risk of bias in randomized controlled trials and retrospective studies was evaluated individually using the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool and Newcastle Ottawa Scale. In total, 160 studies involving 933,409 COVID-19 patients were evaluated. Compared to placebo or standard of care, proxalutamide demonstrated remarkable efficacy in reducing mortality rates, hospitalization rates, serious adverse events, and the need for mechanical ventilation. Furthermore, it significantly enhanced both the rate of clinical improvement and expedited the duration of clinical recovery when compared to control groups. In patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19, proxalutamide exhibited the above advantages, except for mortality reduction. Triazavirin was the most effective treatment for reducing the time required for viral clearance and improving the discharge rate. Leritrelvir and VV116 were ranked first in terms of enhancing the viral clearance rate on days 7 and 14, respectively. Molnupiravir was the most effective treatment for reducing the need for oxygen support. Overall, these findings remained consistent across the various subgroups. A thorough evaluation of effectiveness, applicable to both mild-to-moderate and unstratified populations, highlights the specific advantages of proxalutamide, nirmatrelvir/ritonavir, triazavirin, azvudine, molnupiravir, and VV116 in combating COVID-19. Additional clinical data are required to confirm the efficacy and safety of simnotrelvir/ritonavir and leritrelvir. The safety profiles of these antivirals were deemed acceptable.