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COVID-19 Prevention - The Role Of Natural Products And Herbal Medicine

In this article, we want to provide a new viewpoint on COVID-19 prevention. Natural products and herbal treatments as possible COVID-19 preventatives were highlighted.

As of December 2019, the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic posed a threat to global public health that had never been seen before.

COVID-19 is caused by a beta-coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, which is a member of the same family as COVID-19.

Coronaviruses (CoVs) are a family of large, closed, positive-sense, signal-strand RNA viruses with spikes on the outside that look like clubs.

There are seven reported human CoV strains at the moment. Human coronavirus OC43 (HCoV-OC43), Human coronavirus HKU1 (HCoV-HKU1), Human coronavirus 229E (HCoV-229E), and Human coronavirus NL63 (HCoV-NL63) are the four that only cause moderate symptoms, whereas the other three cause more severe symptoms: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Related Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV), and Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

The Current Preventive Measures For COVID-19

Robust prevention is needed to limit the present epidemic and avoid future relapses. Vaccines, convalescent serum, monoclonal antibodies, and antiviral medicines have become attractive alternatives. Several groups have taken the lead in the race to make a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 that is being used.

While vaccine research is underway, current pharmaceutical remedies will need to be repurposed or reinvented. Repurposing might fast-track treatment choices with a proven safety record and improved mass-production infrastructure.

Repurposing prophylactics might minimize the public spread of the virus and help health authorities contain the epidemic. Several active chemicals are highlighted.

The Global Development Landscape For The COVID-19 Vaccine

Potential approaches include mRNA distribution, genetic material with a viral carrier, and inactivated viruses. At the moment, more of the most advanced vaccine candidates are in the second and third categories for approaches that can be made more quickly and with more flexibility, which is perfect for the SARS-CoV-2 public health problem.

Two top mRNA delivery candidates are mRNA-1273 by Moderna and NIAID in the U.S. and BNT162b1 by BioNTech and Pfizer in Germany. Both possibilities employ Spike (S) RNA encoding motifs. Since the vaccination started, Moderna got approval from the FDA to start recruiting for phase III, which started in July 2020.

Moderna's phase III clinical studies attracted more than 20,000 individuals as of early September 2019. BioNTech's phase III clinical trials began in July 2020. Its worldwide phase 2/3 study has included more than 25,000 participants thus far. It has issued a preprint indicating a favorable response to SARS-COV-2 (~1.8–2.8 folds) compared to convalescent human serum.

Blood Transfusion And Monoclonal Antibody Convalescence

As a COVID-19 therapy, people all over the world are testing convalescent serum transfusion, in which patients get plasma with antibodies from recovered patients.

In April 2020, the UK's National Health Service (NHS) created the Blood and Transplant Service (NHSBT) to perform a recovery trial with Oxford University on COVID therapy and prevention (NHS Blood and Transplant).

Convalescent plasma clinical studies have included thousands of people worldwide. The FDA provided a guideline for investigating convalescent plasma. On August 23, the FDA gave out an emergency use authorization (EUA), but they still want clinical studies to be done.

Regeneron has commercially studied antibodies extracted from human convalescent plasma and genetically humanized animals. The author reveals a treatment-potential antibody cocktail.

Small Molecule Prophylactic

Gilead Sciences' Remdesivir is a nucleotide analog prodrug. Intracellularly metabolized, its product inhibits viral RNA polymerase. It's applicable to Ebola, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV.

Remdesivir is being studied for both the treatment and prevention of SARS-CoV-2. Early research using Remdesivir by de Wit et al. shows that it can be used for both prevention and treatment, which is the same as what later SARS-CoV-2 animal model research found. The WHO is also considering remde sivir for its "solidarity" experiment.

TRUVADA® (emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil) is an HIV pre-exposure prophylactic. It's a protease and RT inhibitor. Inhibiting RNA-dependent RNA polymerase may help cure SARS-CoV-2.

Natural Products Hindering Human Coronavirus

Combinatorial synthesis and molecular docking help identify many synthetic medications, yet one-third of FDA-approved pharmaceuticals are natural. Natural compounds from plants, fungi, and the sea are a big part of finding new drugs and foods.

Natural compounds have promising antiviral properties against human CoVs, which may help create antiviral prophylactics. We looked at recent research on natural products that are effective against MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, or SARS-CoV-2, as well as their molecular targets and likely ways of working.

Natural Products Inhibiting MERS-CoV

MERS-CoV causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS, also known as camel flu). 2012 in Saudi Arabia. Since then, it's spread to 27 countries through air travel, causing 2,494 cases and 858 deaths globally, according to the WHO.

The WHO considers MERS-CoV a pandemic disease since it continues to infect people. 37% of infected patients die. Few researchers have looked at natural items as MERS-CoV therapies.

The MERS-CoV envelope spike (S) protein is required for dipeptidyl peptidase 4 receptor binding and virus-cell membrane fusion. Kim et al. created a pseudo-virus expressing MERS-S CoV's protein (MERS-PV) and tested 502 natural substances to prevent MERS-CoV entry.

Dihydrotanshinone, E-64-C, and E-64-D passed 1 µg/ml screening. Only dihydrotanshinone inhibits MERS-CoV post-attachment. Dihydrotanshinone is derived from the Chinese herb Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge. Animal research must prove antiviral activity against MERS-CoV.

Natural Products Inhibiting SARS-CoV

SARS-CoV developed in Southern China in 2002-2003, infecting about 8,000 individuals and killing 800, predominantly in China and its neighbors. SARS-envelope CoV's S protein is crucial for viral tropism and penetration into host cells, making it a viable therapeutic target. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is a functional receptor for SARS-CoV, which makes it a possible target. This receptor helps S proteins spread infection, which makes it a good target.

Emodin is an anthraquinone from Rheum officinale Baill and Reynoutria multiflora Moldenke. Ho et al. found that emodin inhibited the infectivity of S protein pseudotyped retrovirus in Vero E6 cells. Emodin prevented the interaction between S protein and ACE2 with an IC50 of 200 µM, suggesting it might be used to treat SARS.

Scutellaria lateriflora L. contains the flavone scutellarein. Yu et al. tested 64 pure natural substances for their capacity to inhibit SARS helicase, nsP13, utilizing a fluorescence resonance energy transfer-based double-strand DNA unwinding assay. In vitro, scutellarein reduced SARS-CoV helicase via reducing nsP13's ATPase activity. More preclinical or clinical investigations are required to examine Scutellarein's antiviral activities.

Natural Products Inhibiting SARS-CoV-2

Wuhan, China, is the epicenter of the SARS-CoV-2-caused COVID-19 epidemic. Infection cases are still rising. The SARS-CoV-2 genome is 70% identical to that of SARS-CoV, thus its name. Preventing and treating SARS-CoV-2 is critical. Due to similarities, numerous licensed or pre-clinical anti-SARS medications are being studied against SARS-CoV-2.

Registered injections include escin and sodium aescinate. Some people want to use natural treatments for COVID-19 since they have usually been used for respiratory infections.

Heat Shock Protein A5 (HSPA5, also known as BiP or GRP78), is a viral S receptor. HSPA5 is increased and translocated to the cell membrane by SARS-CoV-2 to induce infection. Elfiky et al. simulated natural product chemicals against the HSPA5 substrate-binding domain β (SBDβ).

Daidzin, Genistein, Formononetin, and Biochanin A bind proximally to HSPA5. Compounds may prevent SARS-CoV-2 from attaching to cells. These plant-derived chemicals may help identify SARS-CoV-2 prophylactics. These chemicals' antiviral bioactivity needs further study.

Antibacterial Herbs For Respiratory Infections

Colds and the flu can be treated with herbal medicines like EPs® 7630, Sinupret®, and KanJang®.Since the COVID-19 epidemic began in December 2019, herbal medications have been used throughout China to reduce infection rates.

Both Chinese regulatory bodies and frontline healthcare professionals have validated its effectiveness in treating SARS-CoV-2 ARDS. Academics have recently questioned the effectiveness of herbal medicine as a COVID-19 treatment because they don't know how it works on a pharmacological level.

Clinical observation shows that herbal treatments helped stop COVID-19 from spreading in China. Several preclinical investigations have shown that flavonoid-rich herbal remedies have anti-virus action in human lung cell lines. For herbal treatment and prevention to work better, it is important to study the underlying processes and active ingredients.

The word coronavirus written in red and black on a white background
The word coronavirus written in red and black on a white background

A March 2020 clinical case indicated that a herbal formulation suggested by the National Health Commission of the P.R. China (NHC) attenuated ADS in a moderate COVID-19 patient. It is the first to suggest botanicals may cure COVID-19.

Recent studies detailed the herbal medications utilized in China during the COVID-19 epidemic and did meta-analysis to highlight its therapeutic effect. Liquorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra L.), Baical Skullcap Root (Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi), Pinellia Rhizome [Pinellia ternata (Thunb.) Makino], Forsythia Fruit [Forsythia suspensa (Thunb.) Vahl], and Bitter Apricot Seed (Prunus armeniaca), according to Xiong et

Their meta-analysis demonstrated herbal treatments are beneficial in preventing illness development from mild to critical, reducing hospitalization rates, shortening hospital stays, and relieving COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough, exhaustion, and inflammation.

People Also Ask

How Should Surfaces Be Cleaned To Aid In COVID-19 Prevention?

Additionally, surfaces may be cleaned with alcohol at a 70–90% concentration. Before disinfecting, surfaces need to be cleaned by wiping them down with water, soap, or a detergent to get rid of dirt.

How Can Physical Distancing Help In COVID-19 Prevention?

COVID-19 is less likely to spread if we keep a safe distance from each other and stay away from crowded places and large groups of people.

What Can I Do During Grocery Shopping To Aid COVID-19 Prevention?

  • Before going inside the shop, sanitize your hands.
  • Use a tissue or your bent elbow to catch a cough or sneeze.
  • Keep at least a 1-meter gap between you and other people, and if you can't, use a mask (many stores now require a mask).
  • When you go home, wash your hands well. You should also wash your hands after handling and storing your purchases.

Can Masks Help In COVID-19 Prevention?

Using a mask alone is not enough to protect against COVID-19. Masks should be used as part of a full plan to stop the spread of the disease and save lives.


Since the beginning of the year 2020, a lot of pharmaceutical companies have joined forces with universities or state-funded research organizations to find treatments that can stop COVID-19 from spreading quickly.

As of the month of July in the year 2020, a wide variety of therapies, ranging from neutralizing antibodies and tiny compounds to bioengineered goods, have been identified. With the help of computational chemistry and virtual screening, researchers have made a large library of new small molecules.

These novel small molecules show favorable binding affinity with validated drug targets. But the researchers still need to do more tests to find out how effective and safe these lead compounds are in both preclinical models and real people.

In spite of this, it appears that optimizing a novel lead for COVID-19 is not the best choice at this time. This is because the whole process of making a new drug usually takes years, even if the FDA approves it quickly, and it is unthinkable that the public will have to go through another long period of economic and health problems.

When it comes to neutralizing antibodies, the outlook is also not good. This is because building a manufacturing infrastructure and managing supply chains for biologics is much harder and takes a lot more time than doing the same for small-molecule drugs.

Due to recent advances in bioengineering, a number of nanoengineered therapies for treating COVID-19 have been made.

About The Authors

Suleman Shah

Suleman Shah - Suleman Shah is a researcher and freelance writer. As a researcher, he has worked with MNS University of Agriculture, Multan (Pakistan) and Texas A & M University (USA). He regularly writes science articles and blogs for science news website immersse.com and open access publishers OA Publishing London and Scientific Times. He loves to keep himself updated on scientific developments and convert these developments into everyday language to update the readers about the developments in the scientific era. His primary research focus is Plant sciences, and he contributed to this field by publishing his research in scientific journals and presenting his work at many Conferences. Shah graduated from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (Pakistan) and started his professional carrier with Jaffer Agro Services and later with the Agriculture Department of the Government of Pakistan. His research interest compelled and attracted him to proceed with his carrier in Plant sciences research. So, he started his Ph.D. in Soil Science at MNS University of Agriculture Multan (Pakistan). Later, he started working as a visiting scholar with Texas A&M University (USA). Shah’s experience with big Open Excess publishers like Springers, Frontiers, MDPI, etc., testified to his belief in Open Access as a barrier-removing mechanism between researchers and the readers of their research. Shah believes that Open Access is revolutionizing the publication process and benefitting research in all fields.

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