Objective To systematically review the application of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).Methods PubMed, The Cochrane Library, EMbase, CBM, WanFang Data and CNKI databases were searched for studies on ECMO for COVID-19 from December 1st, 2019 to December 31st, 2020. Two researchers independently screened literature, extracted data, and evaluated the risk of bias of included studies. Meta-analysis was then performed using RevMan 5.3 software.Results A total of 24 studies were included, involving 1 576 acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) patients with COVID-19. The overall mortality of patients was 27.3% (430/1 576). The rate of ECMO treatment was 4.68% (379/1576), and the survival rate was 69.4% (263/379). The mean duration of mechanical ventilation before ECMO treatment for ARDS patients ranged from 2.07±0.40 to 15.89±13.0 days, compared with 1.64±0.78 days and 29.9±3.60 days for ECMO treatment. Of the 11 studies included in the meta-analysis, 84.0% (405/482) patients with ARDS received conventional treatment with COVID-19, and 16.0% (77/482) received ECMO treatment on the basis of conventional treatment with ARDS. Results of meta-analysis showed that there was statistically significant difference in the survival rate of ARDS patients with COVID-19 treated with conventional therapy combined with ECMO or with conventional therapy alone (RR=1.27, 95%CI 1.00 to 1.62, P=0.05).Conclusions This study suggests that the survival rate of COVID-19 patients after ECMO treatment has a tendency to improve. Due to the limitation of quantity and quality of included studies, the above conclusions are needed to be verified by more high-quality studies.