China to use anti-flu drug Avigan to treat virus

The Chinese government says it has officially decided to use the Japanese-developed anti-influenza drug Avigan in treating people infected with the new coronavirus.

Zhang Xinmin, director of the National Center for Biotechnology Development, said at a news conference in Beijing on Tuesday that the drug was found to be effective in clinical trials by two medical organizations in the country.

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

He said that the tests in Wuhan found that it took an average of 2.5 days for the temperature of those who were given Avigan to return to normal. It took 4.2 days for those who weren't given the drug.

He added that patients who were given the medicine were able to get rid of their cough in an average of 4.57 days, compared with 5.98 days for those who were not given it. He added that the medicine had no obvious side effects.

In tests in Shenzhen, the director said those who were given the medicine after testing positive for the virus turned negative after a median of four days, 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 who weren't given it.