China claims flu drug Avigan effective against Covid-19
18 March 2020,
A representative of China's science ministry has reportedly claimed a flu vaccine developed by Japan's Fujifilm Holdings is effective for treating the novel coronavirus Covid-19.
The Nikkei Asian Review reports China National Center for Biotechnology Development (CNCBD) director Zhang Xinmin told a press conference yesterday the drug favipiravir, marketed under the brand Avigan can be used to treat the virus.
The publication reports the drug, developed in 2014 and given to Japanese coronavirus patients since February this year, has shown good recovery levels and markedly reduced pneumonia symptoms in clinicla trials in Wuhan and Shenzhen.
"It is very safe and clearly effective," Zhang was quoted as saying.
However, Yonhap News Agency reports authorities in South Korea have raised doubts about the efficacy and potential side effects of the drug and the country will not plan to use it for treating Covid-19.
Korea's Ministry of Food and Drug Safety reportedly decided not to import Avigan after infectious disease experts ruled there was not enough clinical data to prove its efficacy.
"Avigan has not only not shown efficacy during test studies but also there is not data on clinical trials conducted on patients," infectious disease expert Oh Myoung-don told the agency.
"The drug has also shown serious side effects, such as fetal deaths in animal studies," Oh was quoted as saying.
Updated at 6:16pm AEDT on 18 March 2020.