Antibiotics are not an effective treatment for COVID-19 because antibiotics kill bacteria. COVID-19 is caused by a virus. Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses.
Viruses and bacteria are different in important ways. First, antibiotics kill bacteria by attacking their cell membranes. Viruses don’t have cell membranes to attack. Antibiotics can also disrupt the machinery that bacteria use to make proteins or genetic material. But antibiotics don’t recognize viruses’ machinery.
Because of these differences, antibiotics don’t treat infections caused by viruses, so they can’t treat COVID-19.
Last update: April 18, 2020 at 3:30pm ET
Science review by: ERS, GSN