18 March 2020 16:33
A flu drug is 'clearly effective' in treating coronavirus, medical experts in China have claimed. Favipiravir, the active ingredient in a Japanese anti-flu medicine called Avigan, was trialled on 340 patients with the killer disease in China. Patients who took Favipiravir recovered quicker and showed greater lung improvement compared with patients not given the drug. Anti-influenza Avigan tablets, produced by Japan's Fujifilm, are displayed in Tokyo on October 22, 2014. Individuals given Favipiravir in Shenzhen gave negative results around four days after testing positive, compared to an average of 11 days for those not administered the drug, according to Japanese media However, contradictory clinical trials suggest Favipiravir will not be useful in patients who have more severe illness.
Avipiravir is an active ingredient which has shown to be effective against flu strains, yellow fever, foot-and-mouth-disease and some other virus families. It was given to 80 patients in Shenzen and in Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus first emerged in December 2019. Trials of the Avigan anti-influenza drug in Shenzhen proved successful in reducing the duration of the disease in patients, according to Chinese officials 'It has a high degree of safety and is clearly effective in treatment,' Mr Xinmin said, according to The Guardian. Patients who were given the medicine in Shenzhen had negative results for the coronavirus an average of four days after being diagnosed, meaning there was no trace of the virus in their body. This compared with 11 days for those who were not treated with the drug, according to local media.
An oral medicine using favipiravir, developed by Hong Kong-based Sihuan Pharmaceutical, is also in line to try on COVID-19 patients. The study will involve 60 COVID-19 patients who will be given treatment for around 10 days. 'Once approved, favipiravir tablets will be provided for free as a treatment protection for COVID-19 patients during the epidemic, bringing good news to patients.' Chinese medical authorities have claimed a drug used in Japan to treat new strains of influenza appears to be effective for those infected with the coronavirus, Japan's state broadcaster NHK reported. Zhang Xinmin, director of China's National Center for Biotechnology Development, said the favipiravir drug had produced positive outcomes during clinical trials in Wuhan and Shenzen. The report on Tuesday said 340 patients had taken part in the clinical trials.