Based on results of clinical trials conducted with affected patients in both Wuhan and Shenzhen by Chinese medical authorities, Japanese-made flu drug favipiravir which is also known as Avigan is effective in both decreasing the duration of the COVID-19 virus in patients and to have improved the lung conditions of those who accepted treatment with the drug.
The trials involved 340 patients entirety, and since the drug has already been developed and approved for use in treating flu, it has a “high degree of safety,” according to China science and technology ministry official Zhang Xinmin, who spoke to reporters on Wednesday according to The Guardian.
Patients who were given the medicine in Shenzhen inverted negative for the virus after a median of four days after becoming positive, compared with a median of 11 days for those who were not treated with the drug, public broadcaster NHK said.
In addition, X-rays confirmed improvements in lung condition in about 91% of the patients who were treated with favipiravir, compared to 62% or those without the drug.
Avigan influenza tablets, produced by Fujifilm Holdings Corp., are arranged for a photograph at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, on Monday, Oct. 27, 2014. Fujifilm, which makes the Avigan drug used as part of clinical trials in Ebola patients, said aid group Doctors Without Borders may use the drug among its experimental treatments. Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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.
The same limitations had been identified in studies involving coronavirus patients using a combination of the HIV antiretrovirals lopinavir and ritonavir, the source added.
In 2016, the Japanese government supplied favipiravir as an emergency aid to counter the Ebola virus outbreak in Guinea.
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