Focus on azithromycin

Keywords: azithromycin, COVID-19, antibacterial, antiviral, immunomodulatory, chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine


Azithromycin is a second-generation macrolide that was developed in the early 1980s as a semi-synthetic derivative of erythromycin. This broad-spectrum antibiotic is known for its activity against some Gram-negative organisms such as H. influenza. Azithromycin is similar to other macrolides, however, it also has the ability to inhibit quorum sensing and the formation of biofilm. Azithromycin has been beneficial in the treatment of influenza and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and recently has shown to be effective against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS CoV-2) when used in combination with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine. The side-effect that needs to be monitored carefully is the risk of cardiotoxicity when azithromycin is combined with chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine.

Author Biographies

N Padayachee, University of the Witwatersrand

Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

M Milne, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University

School of Pharmacy, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, South Africa

N Schellack, University of Pretoria

Department of Pharmacology, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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