Japanese Flu Drug is Effective Against Coronavirus (COVID-19), Chinese Minister Says
A Japanese flu drug Favipiravir (also known as Avigan) has been shown to be effective in treating patients with coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to medical authorities in China.
The drug, which was developed by Fujifilm Toyama Chemical for the treatment of influenza, showed positive outcomes in clinical trials involving 340 patients in Wuhan and Shenzhen.
“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.
COVID-19 patients who were given the drug in Shenzhen tested negative for the virus after a median of four days, compared with a median of 11 days for those who were not treated with the drug, public broadcaster NHK said.
The trial also showed improvements in the lung condition of around 91% of patients treated with Favipiravir, compared to just 62% whose lung conditions improved without the drug.
However, a Japanese health ministry source suggested the drug was not as effective in patients with severe symptoms.
“We’ve given Avigan to 70 to 80 people, but it doesn’t seem to work that well when the virus has already multiplied,” according to The Guardian.
In addition, clinical trials have begun to test an experimental coronavirus vaccine in humans. Over the next six weeks, about 45 participants are expected to enroll in the vaccine trial in Seattle, which is testing the safety of the vaccine and its ability to trigger the body’s immune response to fight off the coronavirus.
“If all goes well in that trial and the following two clinical trial phases, the vaccine could be ready for public use in about 12 to 18 months,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as quoted from Live Science.