The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to spread worldwide. Integrated Chinese and Western medicine have had some successes in treating COVID-19.
This study aims to evaluate the efficacy and safety of three traditional Chinese medicine drugs and three herbal formulas (3-drugs-3-formulas) in patients with COVID-19.
Relevant studies were identified from 12 electronic databases searched from their establishment to April 7, 2022.
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs), non-RCTs and cohort studies that evaluated the effects of 3-drugs-3-formulas for COVID-19. The treatment group was treated with one of the 3-drugs-3-formulas plus conventional treatment. The control group was treated with conventional treatment.
Data extraction and analysis
Two evaluators screened and selected literature independently, then extracted basic information and assessed risk of bias. The treatment outcome measures were duration of main symptoms, hospitalization time, aggravation rate and mortality. RevMan 5.4 was used to analyze the pooled results reported as mean difference (MD) with 95% confidence interval (CI) for continuous data and risk ratio (RR) with 95% CI for dichotomous data.
Forty-one studies with a total of 13,260 participants were identified. Our analysis suggests that compared with conventional treatment, the combination of 3-drugs-3-formulas might shorten duration of fever (MD = –1.39; 95% CI: –2.19 to –0.59; P < 0.05), cough (MD = –1.57; 95% CI: –2.16 to –0.98; P < 0.05) and fatigue (MD = –1.36; 95% CI: –2.21 to –0.51; P < 0.05), decrease length of hospital stay (MD = –2.62; 95% CI –3.52 to –1.72; P < 0.05), the time for nucleic acid conversion (MD = –2.92; 95% CI: –4.26 to –1.59; P < 0.05), aggravation rate (RR = 0.49; 95% CI: 0.38 to 0.64; P < 0.05) and mortality (RR = 0.34; 95% CI: 0.19 to 0.62; P < 0.05), and increase the recovery rate of chest CT manifestations (RR = 1.22; 95% CI: 1.14 to 1.3; P < 0.05) and total effectiveness (RR = 1.24; 95% CI: 1.09 to 1.42; P < 0.05).
The 3-drugs-3-formulas can play an active role in treating all stages of COVID-19. No severe adverse events related to 3-drugs-3-formulas were observed. Hence, 3-drugs-3-formulas combined with conventional therapies have effective therapeutic value for COVID-19 patients. Further long-term high-quality studies are essential to demonstrate the clinical benefits of each formula.