China: Avigan effective in tackling coronavirus

China's government researchers say they have found the Japanese-developed anti-flu drug Avigan effective in treating patients infected with the new coronavirus and will promote its use.

Zhang Xinmin, director of the National Center for Biotechnology Development, named the drug at a news conference in Beijing on Tuesday.

He said the drug was found to be effective in clinical trials by two medical organizations in the country. He said the medicine worked for coronavirus-related symptoms including pneumonia and had no obvious side effects.

The director said the tests were conducted in the cities of Wuhan and Shenzhen and involved 240 patients and 80 patients respectively.

He said those who were given the medicine in Shenzhen turned negative for the virus after a median of four days after becoming positive, while it took a median of 11 days for those without the drug.

The trial also found that X-ray photos confirmed improvements in lung conditions in about 91 percent of the patients who were given the medicine. The number stood at 62 percent for those without the drug.

The director said the drug is highly safe and its effect is obvious, and formally recommend the use of the medicine as a way to tackle the virus.

A Chinese firm that has licensed the drug from its Japanese developers got government approval last month to mass-produce the medication.

China on Monday confirmed 21 new cases of the virus infections, bringing the total in the country to more than 80,000. It's death toll now stands at 3,226.