From a healthcare perspective, infection due to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) and the ensuing syndrome called COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) represents the biggest challenge the world has faced in several decades. Particularly worrisome are the high contagiousness of the virus and the saturation of hospitals’ capacity due to overwhelming caseloads. Non-pharmaceutical interventions such as quarantine and inter-personal distancing are crucial to limiting the spread of the virus in the general population, but more tailored interventions may be needed at an individual level on a case-by-case basis. In this perspective, the most insidious situation is when an individual has contact with a contagious subject without adequate protection. If rapidly recognized afterwards, this occurrence may be promptly addressed through a post-exposure chemoprophylaxis (PEP) with antiviral drugs. This strategy has been implemented for other respiratory viruses (influenza above all) and was successfully used in South Korea among healthcare workers against the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, by providing people who were exposed to high-risk contacts with lopinavir-ritonavir plus ribavirin. Initial experiences with the use of hydroxychloroquine to prevent COVID-19 also seem promising. Post-exposure chemoprophylaxis might help mitigate the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the current phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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