TOKYO: A Japanese medical institution started on Saturday using Avigan, an anti-influenza medication, to treat people infected with the novel coronavirus, health minister Katsunobu Kato said the same day.
There is no established treatment for the COVID-19 virus. Avigan will be used widely to treat coronavirus patients if its efficacy is confirmed.
Avigan is effective in curbing the growth of the virus and two medical institutions have been preparing to use it, according to Kato.
The drug was used for treatment as part of an observation study after the consent of the patients was obtained and other related procedures were taken at the medical institution.
Avigan is not distributed in the marketplace. The government possesses a stockpile of the drug for about two million people to prepare for the outbreak of a new type of influenza and supplies it to medical institutions when treatment is provided.
“While we need to pay close attention to safety, we plan to gradually increase the number of medical institutions taking part in the observation study,” Kato said.
Kato also said the government plans to start administering remdesivir, a medication to treat Ebola, to coronavirus patients by the end of February. The government will aim for approval of the drug after conducting clinical research in March at the earliest.