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Japanese flu drug Avigan proven to speed up recovery from coronavirus, based on early trials

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This emerging drug holds the current spotlight in the fight against the current pandemic, as various pharmaceutical companies and governments race to find a cure or vaccine for the disease that has infected more than 300,000 worldwide

When Avigan was first approved in 2014, the government only allowed its manufacture and distribution in case of a new influenza virus outbreak. 

Clinical trials for 340 patients were performed in the virus’ initial epicenter, Wuhan, and in Shenzhen. Fortunately, the outcome was favorable speeding up the recovery process to four days compared to the median of 11 days for those who were not given the drug. 

Interestingly, it was also shown that 91% of those who were treated with Favipiravir have improved their lung conditions compared to 62% of those who were not. Favipiravir is the generic name of the Avigan drug. 

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Fujifim Toyama Chemical, the drug developer, has seen its shares skyrocketed at a rate of 14.7% since the release of reports on the effectivity of the drug.

It is safe to note, however, that the use of Avigan must be limited and taken under tight controls. According to studies, it can cause serious fetal abnormalities or birth defects thus they do not encourage pregnant women to take it. 

For clinical trials that are in the works in Japan, Avigan will only be given to patients showing no to mild symptoms who tested positive for the COVID-19. 

There is still much to know about COVID-19, experts say. According to doctors, the drug might be proven more effective when combined with other drugs. It’s not yet clear if Avigan has already been tested in the Philippines.

For now, we can only wait for the results of these trials and pray that the medical experts find a cure or vaccine soon.  

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