Japanese flu drug could be effective in treating pandemic

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A worker wearing protective suit checks the body temperature of an employee at the entrance of OrbusNeich Medical (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd amid the coronavirus outbreak on March 6, 2020 in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province of China.

Chen Wen | China News Service via Getty Images

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.

“It has a high degree of safety and is clearly effective in treatment,” Zhang told reporters.

Patients treated with the drug, which was developed by a subsidiary of Fujifilm, in Shenzen were found to turn negative for COVID-19 after a median of four days, rather than 11 days for those who were not treated with favipiravir, NHK reported.

As of Wednesday, more than 200,000 people worldwide were reported to have contracted the coronavirus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, with over 8,000 deaths.

The WHO has recognized the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic.

Read NHK’s full report here.

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