A Japanese flu drug appears to be effective at combatting coronavirus, Chinese studies show

Tim O'Donnell
·2 min read

Scientists are working around the clock and around the globe to come up with remedies for the novel coronavirus, and, believe it or not, there's been some good news so far.

Chinese medical authorities, for example, have said a Japanese drug called favipiravir, which is normally used to treat new strains of the flu, is "clearly effective" in treating COVID-19 patients, The Guardian reports. And while it would still need government approval for full-scale use, it also has a high degree of safety because it's already been used to treat flu patients. Approval could reportedly happen as early as May, per The Guardian, though that's mostly speculation.

The Chinese studies, which tested 340 COVID-19 patients, have shown patients turned negative for the virus after a median of four days compared to 11 for those who were not administered the drug, and X-rays confirmed lung condition improvements in 91 percent of those who received it versus 62 percent of those who didn't.

Of course, favipiravir would be a treatment and not a cure, and Japanese clinical trials have so far found that the drug's effectiveness is not as strong in patients with more severe symptoms.

It's not the only positive development, either. Another study from China found that three macaque monkeys didn't develop a second COVID-19 infection after recovering from their initial exposure, which suggests people may build up immunity after infection, and also provides some hope for research groups looking to use plasma from recovered patients as a treatment for the disease.

Beyond that, companies worldwide are racing to develop faster tests and vaccines, with some clinical trials ready to begin. Read more at The Guardian and The Scientist.

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