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China approves antiviral favilavir to treat novel coronavirus COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to spread like wildfire and infect thousands worldwide, the first-ever anti-viral drug that can possibly be used to treat coronavirus, known as Favilavir, has been approved by the National Medical Products Administration of China.

Last weekend, the drug which was initially formulated by a Chinese-owned pharmaceutical and is presently promoted under the label Avigan, was recognized by the City Government of Taizhou as the first medicine to be authorized to aid in the control of the coronavirus crisis.

Hisun Pharmaceutical's Favilavir is one of the three drugs that have presented positive results during initial trials when tested against the latest strain of the coronavirus. The drug was reported to have hindered the virus from spreading, proving its capability to prevent further damage to health, according to China's Ministry of Science and Technology.

Moreover, the drug was discovered to possibly be effective in COVID-19 treatments after it underwent a clinical test with 70 test subjects in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. There are some minor side-effects that have been reported after taking the drug, but this did not stop China from mass-producing the generic version of Favilavir.

How Favilavir fights viruses

Whilst Favilavir has shown a potential and possibly therapeutic results against COVID-19, before it can officially be recommended and regarded as effective treatment for the diseases, it still needs to be approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

At present, there are still trials that are being conducted to prove the effectiveness of Favilavir against COVID-19. Studies show that Favilavir's mechanism as an effective anti-viral drug works by attacking the Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) of the virus through inhibiting the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase or RdRp. The drug has been proven and widely used in China and Japan as a treatment for influenza.

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Drugs that may work against COVID-19

Regulatory officials in China first publicized their approval of the use of the anti-viral drug for COVID-19 treatment in February. The said approval was based on the shown efficacy of the medicine during clincal tests in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Favilavir was initially developed as a drug to treat inflammation of the nose or throat.

On the other hand, experts are also looking into another drug that may also be effective in warding off coronavirus. The drug called Remdesivir developed by a drug maker in the US known as Gilead.

Remdesivir was originally made to treat Ebola, however, it was reported that an American that contracted COVID-19 took the medicine and has now fully recovered. As of the moment, the drug is still going through clinical tests and is yet to be approved before making any considerations if it is indeed effective for the treatment of both Ebola and COVID-19.

On top of this, Korean doctors are also studying the use of the HIV combination drug lopinavir plus ritonavir which the marketed as Kaletra, in the possible treatment of COVID-19.

Chinese researchers have already reached out to patients who have fully recovered from the virus to donate their blood, which will be used as an initial sample and aid in looking for a cure to the virus that shook the world.

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