(Prof Waqar Hussain, Lahore)

Japan has been successful in launching coronavirus drug in preliminary clinic trial in China and then in japan. Developed by Fujifilm Toyama Chemical, the antiviral drug is being manufactured by Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical for treating influenza viruses. Last month, the drug reportedly received approval as an experimental treatment for COVID-19 infections, Pharmaceutical Technology reported. The drug is specifically made to treat RNA viruses like SARS-CoV-2; these are viruses whose main genetic material is RNA, rather than DNA. The drug stops some viruses from replicating by crippling the enzyme( RNA polymerase), which builds RNA. Without that enzyme intact, the virus can't duplicate its genetic material efficiently once inside a host cell.

Chinese scientists conducted clinical trial by administering Japanese drug flavipiravir(Avigan) to affected 340 patients in Wuhan and Shenzhen and found Avigan reduced the duration of COVID-19 virus in patients and improved the lung condition startlingly.

Zhang Xinmin, an official of Chinese Science and Technology Ministry, spoke to reporters on Wednesday according to The Guardian; that there is reduction in period during which patient tested positive for the new coronavirus from 11 days down to 4 . In addition, X-rays confirmed improvements in lung condition in about 91% of the patients who were treated with favipiravir. Zhang told reporters on Tuesday “It has a high degree of safety and is clearly effective in treatment,”. In the Wuhan trial, the drug also seemed to shorten the duration of a patient's fever from an average of 4.2 days to 2.5 days

On the other hand, Japan Health Ministry source disclosed the Japanese newspaper “the Manichi Shimbun” that drug so far has been given to around 70-80 patients and early result suggested, it is effective in reducing duration in the mild and moderate cases but is ineffective where the virus has already multiplied profusely in great extent. The same precincts had been identified in studies involving coronavirus patients using a grouping of the HIV antiretrovirals lopinavir and ritonavir.

Early result of clinical trials in China suggested that in 60 hours (two and half day) after medication, all patients became corona negative who were earlier positive. Coughing system of patients was improved in China after 4.6 days but with this drug, coughing improved in just 1.4 days.

It is a big breakthrough in countering this malady when Japanese flu drug appeared ‘effective’ in coronavirus treatment in Chinese and Japanese early clinical trials.

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