China’s health authorities have endorsed the Japanese-developed anti-influenza drug, Avigan, which is said to be effective in treating coronavirus patients.
Zhang Xinmin, China’s director of the National Center for Biotechnology Development confirmed that the Avigan (Favipiravir) drug was found to be effective in two clinical trials completed in Wuhan and Shenzhen involving 320 patients.
During a conference in Beijing on Tuesday, Zhang said the medicine worked for coronavirus-related symptoms including pneumonia and had no obvious side effects.
“It has a high degree of safety and is clearly effective in treatment,” Zhang told reporters.
Patients who were given the medicine in Shenzhen turned negative for the virus after four days of therapy, 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.
The director said he formally recommended the use of this medicine as a way to treat the COVID-19 disease, which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
According to Zhang, a Chinese pharmaceutical company has been approved by the National Medical Products Administration to mass-produce the medication and ensure a stable supply.
Ever since the coronavirus broke out from Wuhan in China almost 200,000 have been infected and 7,900 have died from the disease.