Italy starts testing antiviral drug Avigan against COVID-19

The Italian Pharmaceuticals Agency AIFA has approved testing antiviral drug Avigan for the coronavirus, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Monday. The technical-scientific committee is developing a testing and research programme to assess the impact of the drug in the initial phases of the disease after an initial analysis of the available data on Avigan.

Chinese authorities said Favipiravir, also known as Avigan, an anti-flu drug developed by Fujifilm's Toyama Chemical unit, had been shown in trials to be an effective treatment for the new coronavirus. Patients who were given the medicine in Wuhan and Shenzhen turned negative for the virus after a median of four days after becoming positive, compared with a median of 11 days for those who were not treated with the drug, public broadcaster NHK said. In addition, X-rays confirmed improvements in lung condition in about 91% of the patients who were treated with favipiravir, compared to 62% or those without the drug.

The drug was approved for use in Japan in 2014 and is active against a range of illnesses, including influenza strains, yellow fever, Ebola and foot-and-mouth disease.

Meanwhile the Italian civil protection department on Monday announced a rise in number of sick and dead down for second day. Emergency Commissioner and Civil Protection Chief Angelo Borrelli said Monday that 3,780 new positive cases were reported, compared to 3,957 Sunday, and that 601 people have died in the last 24 hours, compared to the 651 reported Sunday. Borrelli said 7,432 people have recovered from the coronavirus, 408 more than Sunday. The daily rise reported Sunday had been 952.

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