Emergency Antiviral Drug Discovery During a Pandemic - a Case Study on the Application of Natural Compounds to Treat COVID-19

The spreading COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to a halt in 2020. One of the major challenges is the lack of effective antiviral drugs. Drug and vaccine development typically takes years; a practical approach to formulate knowledge-based prescriptions is to conduct in silico screening for drugs and compounds that has the potential to disrupt viral protein functions. By evaluating the dataset from the “Shennong project”, an in silico screening of the DrugBank library against SARS-CoV-2 proteins, we identified chlorogenic acid and rutin displayed a strong affinity with diverse viral proteins. Chlorogenic acid is naturally present in coffee in large quantity, and rutin is available as nutraceutical products, both compounds are considered safe to consume, hence could potentially aid the recovery or treatment for COVID-19 patients at low health risk. We emphasise that the results require further clinical clarification, the impact of this work shall be examined by professionals carefully.