China's health leadership announced they have found the Japanese-developed anti-influenza drug Favipiravir to be effective in treating COVID-19 patients.
Zhang Xinmin, China’s director of the National Center for Biotechnology Development said the drug was found to be effective in two clinical trials completed in Wuhan and Shenzhen and involved 240 patients and 80 patients respectively.
During a conference in Beijing on March 17, Zhang said the medicine worked for coronavirus-related symptoms including pneumonia and had no obvious side effects.
"In view of the safety, obvious efficacy and availability of the drug, researchers have officially recommended Favipiravir to medical teams and suggested it be included in the treatment plan as soon as possible," he said.
Zhang said those who were given Favipiravir reported positive results after four days of treatment. This contrasts with a median of 11 days for those without the medication.
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.
The announcement is significant as there is no standardized effective cure to treat coronavirus patients.