Central nervous system adverse events potentially associated with drugs used for COVID-19: scoping review

Mello et al.


To identify central nervous system (CNS) adverse events potentially associated with prophylaxis or drug treatment for COVID-19, and to describe the characteristic of the individuals affected.


A scoping review was performed using a search strategy to retrieve articles from PubMed, EMBASE, SciELO, Scopus, CINAHL and BVS databases. Studies reporting on individuals receiving prophylactic or curative drugs for COVID-19 with at least one CNS adverse event were included. Articles reporting on CNS adverse events associated with medication for other health conditions were excluded.


The search retrieved 1 547 articles, eight of which met the inclusion criteria. Seven studies had an observational design. A total of 3 035 individuals were assessed, of whom 1 701 were health care professionals and 1 978 were women. Curative treatment with hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir, and azithromycin was the most frequent (n = 5). The most common adverse events were headache, dizziness, mood disturbances, and drowsiness. Suicide was the most frequent severe event. Six adverse events were unexpected for hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, and doxycycline.


Potential CNS adverse events were unspecific and in general potentially associated with the use of hydroxychloroquine (monotherapy or associated with antibiotics). The data confirm the unfavorable risk/benefit profile of these drugs for the prevention and management of signs and symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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