Hope as flu drug is ‘clearly effective’ at treating coronavirus – The Sun

A DRUG used to treat new strains of flu appeared to be "clearly effective" in coronavirus patients, experts have said.

Health officials in China said an active ingredient in Avigan, also known as Favipiravir, had shown promising results in clinical trials in those with Covid-19.

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Zhang Xinmin, an official at China’s science and technology ministry, said the drug was given to 340 patients in Wuhan and Shenzhen.

He told a press conference that Favipiravir – manufactured by a subsidiary of camera firm Fujifilm – had helped them recover, with no obvious side-effects.

It's thought the active ingredient blocks the virus from replicating in the body.

The clinical trial in Shenzhen involved 80 participants – and patients who took Favipiravir showed greater lung improvement compared with patients not given the drug, Zhang said.

'Clearly effective'

According to the Guardian, he told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday: "It has a high degree of safety and is clearly effective in treatment."

Patients who were given the medicine had negative results for the new coronavirus for an average of four days after being diagnosed – meaning there were no traces of the virus in their body.

This compared with 11 days for those who were not treated with the drug, local media reported.

X-rays showed nine in ten of the patients who were treated with Favipiravir had lung improvements, compared to six in ten of those without the drug.


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It is not clear what the results were in patients in Wuhan and which brand of the drug patients were given.

Researchers in Hong Kong say they will investigate doses in more Covid-19 patients – and even claim they'll give out the pill "for free" if studies prove its safe.

An oral medicine using Favipiravir, developed by Sihuan Pharmaceutical, is being clinically trialled by Beijing Chaoyang Hospital.

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It will involve 60 patients with Covid-19 who will be given the treatment for around 10 days, with larger trials expected in the future.

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."

No treatment

Contradictory clinical trials suggest the drug will not be useful in patients who have more severe illness.

So far, there is no known treatment for Covid-19, which first emerged in Wuhan in December 2019.

Most people experience mild symptoms, such as a cough and a temperature, and are able to recover at home within a week.

First developed by Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Co Ltd, Favipiravir has been approved for manufacturing in China by Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical Co Ltd for use against new or recurring influenza in adults.

It has been shown to be effective against flu strains, yellow fever, foot-and-mouth disease and other similar viruses.

In 2016, the Japanese government supplied Favipiravir as an emergency aid to counter the Ebola virus outbreak in Guinea.

Fujifilm Toyama Chemical has declined to comment on the latest clinical trial, The Guardian reports.

However, shares in the firm surged 15 per cent on Wednesday after the encouraging trial results were revealed by Mr Xinmin.

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