Japanese flu drug found to be effective in coronavirus treatment, says China after clinical trials

Edited By: Sonal Gera WION Web Team
Beijing, Beijing, China Updated: Mar 18, 2020, 05:52 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

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China carried out clinical trials of 320 people in Shenzhen and Wuhan, in which the drug showed encouraging results in treating patients with COVID-19.

A Japanese anti-viral drug has been found to be effective in treating coronavirus patients in medical trials undertaken by China. The drug, Favipiravir, also known as Avigan, was approved for use in Japan in 2014 and is active against influenza strains, yellow fever, Ebola and foot-and-mouth disease.

"It has a high degree of safety and is clearly effective in treatment," Zhang Xinmin, an official at China’s science and technology ministry, told reporters on Tuesday.

China carried out clinical trials of 320 people in Shenzhen and Wuhan, in which the drug showed encouraging results in treating patients with COVID-19.

Favipiravir also proved to be effective in improving the lung conditions of those who received the treatment.

Other drug treatments have also been tested for COVID-19 treatment, and are in the process of development.

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No antiviral, however, has yet been approved or created. These drugs include remadesivir -- a compound developed by Gilead Sciences.

Doctors in Japan are using Favipiravir in clinical studies on coronavirus patients with mild to moderate symptoms. A Japanese health ministry source has, however, suggested the drug was not as effective in people with more severe symptoms.

The same limitations were observed when a combination of the HIV antiretrovirals lopinavir and ritonavir was used to treat COVID-19.

Favipiravir would still need government approval for full-scale use on COVID-19 patients. In 2016, the Japanese government supplied favipiravir as an emergency aid to counter the Ebola virus outbreak in Guinea.

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