The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a global pandemic that continues to sweep across the world, posing an urgent need for effective therapies and prevention of the spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome related to coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). A major hypothesis that is currently guiding research and clinical care posits that an excessive and uncontrolled surge of pro-inflammatory cytokines (the so-called "cytokine storm") drives morbidity and mortality in the most severe cases. In the overall efforts made to develop effective and safe therapies (including vaccines) for COVID-19, clinicians are thus repurposing ready-to-use drugs with direct or indirect anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory activities. Speculatively, there are many opportunities and challenges in targeting immune/inflammatory processes in the evolving settings of COVID-19 disease because of the need to safely balance the fight against virus and aggressive inflammation versus the suppression of host immune defenses and the risk of additional harms in already compromised patients. To this end, many studies are globally underway to weigh the pros and cons of tailoring drugs used for inflammatory-driven conditions to COVID-19 patient care, and the next step will be to summarize the growing clinical trial experience into clean clinical practice. Based on the current evidence, anti-inflammatory drugs should be considered as complementary approaches to anti-viral drugs that need to be timely introduced in the management of COVID-19 according to disease severity. While drugs that target SARS-CoV-2 entry or replication are expected to confer the greatest benefits at the early stage of the infection, anti-inflammatory drugs would be more effective in limiting the inflammatory processes that drive the worsening of the disease.
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