Based on results of clinical trials conducted with affected patients in both Wuhan and Shenzhen by China's government researchers, Japanese-developed anti-flu drug favipiravir (also known as Avigan) has been shown to be effective in both reducing the duration of the COVID-19 virus in patients and to have improved the lung conditions of those who received treatment with the drug.
Zhang Xinmin, director of the National Center for Biotechnology Development said: " the drug was found to be effective in clinical trials by two medical organizations in the country. The medicine worked for coronavirus-related symptoms including pneumonia and had no obvious side effects."
The director said the tests were conducted in the cities of Wuhan and Shenzhen and involved 240 patients and 80 patients respectively.
"Those who were given the medicine in Shenzhen turned negative for the virus after a median of four days after becoming positive, while it took a median of 11 days for those without the drug. Favipiravir has been effective, with no obvious side-effects, in helping coronavirus patients recover," Zhang Xinmin told reporters at a news conference held earlier.
The trial also found that X-ray photos confirmed improvements in lung conditions in about 91 per cent of the patients who were given the medicine. The number stood at 62 per cent for those without the drug.
The director said the drug is highly safe and its effect is obvious, and formally recommend the use of the medicine as a way to tackle the virus.
The Chinese studies are not the only attempt to test the efficacy of the drug in COVID-19 treatment – Japanese doctors are bonding their own studies. A Japanese health ministry source told Japanese newspaper the Manichi Shimbun that the drug so far has been given to around 70 to 80 people, but that early results suggest it isn’t effective in treating those with more severe symptoms where the virus has already multiplied to a much greater extent.
A Chinese firm that has licensed the drug from its Japanese developers got government approval last month to mass-produce the medication.
Sihuan executive director Che Fengsheng said: 'After all the efforts and preparations, our group is fully prepared for favipiravir's raw material and preparation production. '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.'
China on Monday confirmed 21 new cases of the virus infections, bringing the total in the country to more than 80,000. It's death toll now stands at 3,226.
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