BEIJING -- China has completed the clinical research of Favipiravir, an antiviral drug that has shown good clinical efficacy against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to an official Tuesday.
Favipiravir, the influenza drug which was approved for clinical use in Japan in 2014, has shown no obvious adverse reactions in the clinical trial, said Zhang Xinmin, director of the China National Center for Biotechnology Development under the Ministry of Science and Technology, at a press conference.
More than 80 patients have participated in the clinical trial in The Third People's Hospital of Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, including 35 patients taking Favipiravir and 45 patients on a control group. Results showed that patients receiving Favipiravir treatment turned negative for the virus in a shorter time compared with patients in the control group.
A multi-centered randomized clinical study led by the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University also suggested that the therapeutic effect of Favipiravir is much better than that of the control group.
Favipiravir has been recommended to medical treatment teams and should be included in the diagnosis and treatment plan for COVID-19 as soon as possible, Zhang said.
A Chinese pharmaceutical company has been approved by the National Medical Products Administration to mass-produce the drug and ensure stable supply, Zhang added.
China is also pushing forward the utilization of some advanced technologies such as stem cell and artificial liver and blood purification in the treatment of severe cases.
Zhang said stem cell therapy proves effective in reducing severe inflammatory reactions caused by COVID-19, as well as reducing lung injury and pulmonary fibrosis in patients.
China has initiated several clinical research programs on stem cell therapy against COVID-19, including a stem cell drug that has been approved for clinical trial and a mesenchymal stem cell therapy.
Stem cell therapy has been used to treat 64 patients in severe and critical condition. Those patients' breathing difficulties were gradually relieved and they were generally cured in eight to 10 days. The therapy also showed advantages in preventing pulmonary fibrosis and improving the long-term prognosis for patients.
The Chinese Society for Cell Biology and the Chinese Medical Association have jointly issued a guideline to standardize the clinical research and application of stem cell therapy against COVID-19.
Zhang said China is trying to use artificial liver and blood purification technology to treat critically ill patients. Patients receiving this treatment have seen reduced levels of inflammatory factors and improvement in chest imaging. Their time on ventilator support has been decreased by an average of 7.7 days and the required ICU monitoring time has been shortened.