The 7 best antiviral agents

*Review of the best according to the editorial board. About the selection criteria. This material is subjective, not an advertisement and is not a guide to purchase. Consult a healthcare professional before buying.

Antivirals are a large group of drugs. It includes both prescription drugs with pronounced side effects, which are used to treat hepatitis or HIV infection, and homeopathic “drugs”, which are advertised as means for effective flu treatment, but are in fact nothing more than a placebo. Therefore, in order not to tempt anyone to cure serious illnesses with the help of advice from the Internet, we should say at once: this rating will be about antiviral drugs. designed to treat acute respiratory infections (i.e. colds) and flu.

Disclaimer number two – our review will not include homeopathic remedies. The rating of the best remedies is not a place for near-scientific discussions, so we will simply remind you that the Russian Academy of Sciences has recognized homeopathy as pseudoscience, and the World Health Organization warns against using homeopathy for infectious diseases, which include colds.

Some of the effective medicines are sold in pharmacies with a doctor’s prescription and must be taken under his supervision. Speaking of such remedies, we will mention that they are prescription.

Please do not view our rating as a comprehensive guide to treating colds and flu. Recommendations for the treatment of the disease should be given by the doctor, we only inform our readers of the available options.

How to distinguish a cold from the flu

Normal seasonal ARVI – a matter of what is called everyday life: doctors believe that a healthy child with normal immunity can have up to 6 colds a year, and an adult – up to 4. Whereas the flu is a serious illness fraught with complications, the most dangerous of which is viral pneumonia and respiratory failure. And if during an acute respiratory viral infection you can wait 2 – 3 days to see a doctor, but colleagues and fellow passengers on public transport will hardly thank you for this, then in case of a suspicion of flu it is necessary to contact a specialist as soon as possible.

Here’s a chart to help you guess what you’re dealing with this time.

A sign of



Onset of illness

Abrupt, sudden, it is not uncommon to call the time of illness with accuracy. up to an hour

The condition worsens gradually, the illness begins with general malaise.


Usually well above 38

Fever is usually between 37.1 and 37.9

Runny nose

No fever in the first few days

Usually appears at the beginning of an illness


From the first days, dry, excruciating, accompanied by severe pain behind the sternum

Depends on the specific virus, but usually appears on day 2 to 3

Bone pain, muscle pain

Usually there are, caused by severe intoxication

Usually not

Photophobia, lacrimation, pain on movementeyeballs




Winter, usually against the background of an already declared flu epidemic

Year-round – you can catch a cold under the air conditioner “overbathing” and so on

Some of the remedies mentioned below in the rating are effective exclusively against psoriasis, we put them in a separate group.

Note!All antiviral medicines are effective only if taken within 48 hours of symptoms showing up with a cold.

If possible, we have tried to indicate the name of the active substance (international name of the drug), and only after it – trade (brand) names, so that our readers could choose between analogues, based on their own economic opportunities.

Rating of the best antivirals

Nominationplaceproduct nameprice
The best antiviral drugs for children1Umifenovir144€
The best antiviral drugs for adults1Tiloron486€
The best remedies for the flu1Zanamivir905€
2Oseltamivir1 020€
What to do if you have a cold and flu: first aid without drugs

Best antivirals for children

As for antiviral drugs for children, the situation is paradoxical: they fall ill much more often than adults, and there are almost no effective drugs for kids under the age of two (we repeat, we are not talking about homeopathy). This is partly due to the fact that such young children need a special form of release: with the tablet they can choke on it, while the spray can provoke laryngospasm (croup). In any case, if a child under two years of age falls ill with a cold or flu, do not self-treat, consult a doctor!


Rating: 4.9


Trade names: Arbidol, Arpeflu, Orvitol, Afludol

Arbidol has a rather controversial reputation – when it first appeared, there was not enough evidence of efficacy, and rumors about the administrative resource used to promote it did not contribute to a positive attitude on the part of specialists. But in recent years, the number of studies conducted is increasing, and the drug is of interest not only to doctors in the former Soviet Union, but also to experts from other countries (China, the United States). Available data confirm the efficacy of Umifenovir against influenza viruses, colds and enteroviruses (“intestinal flu”, manifested by a runny nose and fever, combined with diarrhea and stomach pains).

The drug blocks a special molecule in the shell of the virus called hemagglutinin. It is this molecule that “drags” the virus through the membranes inside the cells of the body. The virus itself, unlike bacteria, is not able to reproduce, for this it needs to get into a living cell and insert its genes for the cell to start producing viral particles. Until that happens, no infection.

According to studies, umifenovir helps reduce the duration of the disease by 1.7 to 2.65 days, and 4 times reduces the likelihood of complications.

Take umifenovir can be taken from two years of age, for kids of this age, the antiviral drug Arbidol in powder to prepare a suspension. For other ages, there are 50 mg tablets, 100 mg capsules, and 200 mg capsules. It should be taken 4 times a day:

  1. From 2 to 6 years – 50 mg (or 10 ml of suspension);
  2. 6 to 12 years old – 100 mg;
  3. Over 12 years of age and adults: 200 mg.

Here is a table that may tell you what dosage to choose to treat a child or adult:

Form of release, dosage

Children 2 – 6 years old

Children 6 to 12 years of age

Over 12 years of age and adults

Arbidol powder for making suspension


Can be taken, but too expensive compared to other dosages

Can be taken, but it is too expensive compared to other dosages

Arbidol tablets 50 mg (from 3 years)


(two tablets per visit)

Can be taken, but it is too expensive compared to other dosages

Arbidol capsules 100 mg

– – —


(two pills per visit)

Arbidol Maximum 200 mg.

– – –

– – –


Antiviral is contraindicated during pregnancy and in cases of known intolerance.

Of the adverse events, possible allergic reactions.


  • A wide range of antiviral action,
  • minimum of contraindications,
  • no side effects.


  • It should not be used in children under two years of age.


Rating: 4.6


This medicine contains human interferon that has both direct antiviral properties and the ability to stimulate the immune system. The antiviral drug is dispensed by prescription.

Viferon can be used from birth, to treat colds and flu – one suppository every 12 hours.

For babies from birth to 7 years old, Viferon is used in a dosage of 150,000 IU. 500,000 IU suppositories are recommended for children over 7 years of age and adults.

It is an antiviral medicine for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Adverse events may include allergic reactions. Contraindicated if known to be intolerant.

Advantages of

  • Can be used from birth,
  • minimal side effects.


  • Since when using suppositories about the direct antiviral effect of interferon is not a question (after all, the flu affects the mucosa of the respiratory tract, not the rectum), the effectiveness of the drug will depend on the response of the immune system, which is individual in each case.


Rating: 4.3


Cagocel has no direct antiviral effect but promotes the production of interferons, which in turn stimulate the immune response. It can be used for the treatment of influenza and other acute viral respiratory tract infections in children from the age of three.

Available in 12 mg tablets.

The duration of the course of treatment is 4 days, the scheme of application depends on the age and day of the disease:

  1. Children from 3 to 6 years of age: twice a day for the first 2 days, once a day for the next 2 days, a full course of 6 pills;
  2. Children over 6 years: the first 2 days – one tablet three times a day, the next 2 days – twice a day, the full course of 10 pills,
  3. Adults: 2 tablets 3 times a day for the first 2 days, 3 tablets 3 times a day for the next 2 days. Total for the course of treatment – 18 tablets.

Allergic reactions have been reported as possible side effects.

Antiviral agent is contraindicated in children under 3 years old, pregnant and lactating women.


  • Minimum range of side effects.


  • complex scheme of use,
  • No direct antiviral effect, the effectiveness depends on the immune system.

Best antiviral drugs for adults

We have included in this section antiviral drugs that can be used not only in adults, but also in children of school age. Such children can already be given the same dosage form (tablets, capsules) as adults, the only difference is the dosage of the medicine.


Rating: 4.5


Trade names: Amixin, Lavomax.

This is another interferon inducer – a substance that does not act directly on viruses, but stimulates the immune response. Nevertheless, it is prescribed as an antiviral.

Available in 60 mg tablets for children and 125 mg for adults (from 18 years of age).

Please note!Lavomax is available only in 125 mg tablets and is approved for use from 18 years of age.

Antiviral medication is taken once a day, on days 1, 2, and 4 of treatment.

Of the side effects noted dyspepsia (abdominal pain, nausea, stool disorders), transient chills. Allergic reactions possible.

Tiloron is contraindicated during pregnancy and lactation.


  • Taken once a day.


  • No direct antiviral action.


Rating: 4.4


Antiviral agent acts in several directions: on the one hand, it stimulates the production in infected cells of special proteins that inhibit the reproduction of the virus. On the other hand, it increases the sensitivity of affected cells to the action of interferons. Has a mild anti-inflammatory effect.

According to studies, it reduces the duration of the disease by an average of 1 day.

Available in 60 mg capsules for children from 7 years of age and 90 mg for adults. Take 1 capsule a day for 5 to 7 days.

Allergic reactions are possible as an undesirable side effect.

The use of the drug during pregnancy and lactation is not expressly prohibited in the instructions, but it is noted that the safety of its use during these periods has not been studied. It is obvious that it is not a very sensible idea to experiment on yourself in this condition.


  • No contraindications,
  • Convenient use – once a day.


  • Relatively long course of treatment.

Best flu remedies

This section of our rating includes drugs recommended by WHO for flu treatment. At the same time, they are ineffective against acute respiratory viral infections, so it makes no sense to use them for common seasonal colds. Both drugs are prescription, which means that they must be prescribed by a doctor… Their use during pregnancy and lactation is not formally prohibited, but since safety studies have not been conducted in humans, for obvious reasons, all the possible risks are at the discretion of the prescribing physician and the patient.


Rating: 4.8


Trade names: Relenza.

The remedy blocks a special substance on the shell of the virus – neuraminidase. It’s an enzyme that destroys receptors to the virus on the host cells, allowing the virus to penetrate through cell membranes. By blocking the neuraminidase, oseltamivir inhibits not only the spread but also the reproduction of the virus, because no virus is able to reproduce itself.

Zanamivir shortens the duration of illness by an average of 1.5 days and reduces the risk of complications by about a third. In addition, it reduces the release of the virus into the environment, meaning that relatives of the patient taking zanamivir have less opportunity to become infected.

Available in the form for inhalation: the bottle contains 5 rotadiscs with the medicine, which must be inserted into a special device – Dischaller, which comes with the drug. One Rotadisc is enough for 4 inhalations.

Zanamivir antiviral can be used to treat children from 5 years of age. The method of use and dosage are the same for all ages: 2 inhalations twice a day for 5 days. That is, one pack is just enough for a course of treatment.

Do not take the drug for people with a known intolerance to zanamivir. People prone to bronchospasm should use it with caution (children, infants, and children with asthma). People who have already had croup, adults, and children with bronchial asthma).

Do not try to put the drug in the nebulizer contrary to the instructions – lactose contained in the composition can damage the device.

It is sold by prescription.


  • Is available in the form of inhalation: it is practically not absorbed into the blood and does not affect the internal organs,
  • ease of use.


  • May provoke bronchospasm in people with an individual predisposition.


Rating: 4.7


Trade names: Tamiflu, Nomides, Oseltamivir phosphate

The mechanism of action is the same as in the previous drug. Helps shorten the duration of the illness by an average of 2 days. It can be used to treat flu in both adults and children over 1 year of age.

For children from 1 to 8 years of age, it is better to use the suspension to prepare the solution. Apply it twice a day, and the amount will depend on the weight of the child:

  1. 15 kg – 30 mg,
  2. 15 – 23 kg – 45 mg,
  3. 23 – 40 kg – 60 mg.

To measure the required amount, the kit for preparing the suspension includes a syringe, which has markings corresponding to 30, 45 and 60 mg of the active substance.

Children over 8 years of age, if they weigh more than 40 kg, can be given capsules of 75 mg, otherwise it is better to use a suspension.

Adolescents over 12 years of age and adults are recommended to take oseltamivir 75 mg 2 times a day.

Possible side effects: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness,

The drug is contraindicated in cases of renal failure and individual intolerance to the active substance.

It is sold with a prescription.


  • proven effective against the flu virus,
  • Can be used in children from one year of age.


  • high price.

All of the antiviral drugs mentioned in the rating can be used both to treat and to prevent colds. We have deliberately not indicated the recommended dosages in such cases, as this would turn an already voluminous review into an endless. For more information, consult the medicine’s instructions for use.

What to do if you have a cold or flu: first aid without medication

  1. Get the sick person to bed before running to the pharmacy. Take away gadgets, computer and TV: let him sleep it off, at least for the first few days. You may listen to music.
  2. If possible, give the sick person a separate room. Open the vents: a constant flow of cool air will reduce the concentration of the virus in the room. Of course, the patient and everyone else in the room should be dressed according to the temperature, which should ideally be no higher than 16 – 18 degrees.
  3. If you have a humidifier in the house, turn it on. If not, cover the radiators with wet terry towels, change them as they dry. In winter the air is too dry, and this has a negative effect on the protective functions of the mucous membranes. Immunoglobulins, interferons and other substances, which our organism secretes to fight viruses, work only in a humid environment. Actually, this is why the mucous membranes are covered with mucus, and when they dry out, you can not effectively fight the disease.
  4. Put at least two liters of any drink near the patient (not alcohol, of course) so he may drink it anytime he wants to. Drinking lots of fluids helps to flush toxins out of the body. This can help relieve headaches and muscle aches.
  5. If he has cold hands and feet, put on socks (mittens may be okay) and a blanket. If he is hot – do not try to wrap him up specially, on the contrary, let him undress to a comfortable level. Wipe it off with cool water (just water, no vodka or vinegar). It will help to bring down the fever faster.
  6. Western doctors recommend that the temperature be brought down not only by wiping with cool water, but also by placing the patient briefly (up to 10 minutes) in a cool bath. Our compatriots think this is too radical a method.
  7. If the patient is suffering from a dry cough, do not make him breathe over a potato, it is not only fraught with burns, but also helps the infection to spread through the airways. Let the bathtub boil, closing the doors, wait 5 to 15 minutes until the room is filled with steam, and run the patient into it (not into the boiling water, but into the room!). But it is easier to give a nebulizer with plain water or alkaline (bicarbonate) mineral water, from which the bubbles were previously released.
  8. If the patient is a child, and he categorically refuses to eat, do not force him. He will catch up when he recovers. Let him drink milk (not hot and without soda), yogurt, juice, etc. for now.
  9. If the patient does not get better on the 2nd or 3rd day, and if you have not consulted a doctor before – do it immediately!
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