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Russia to begin administering anti-viral COVID-19 drug next week

Published on 01/06/20 at 12:52pm
Photo by the President of Russia

Russia will start its roll out of the anti-viral drug Avifavir (favipiravir) to COVID-19 patients next week, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

The drug was developed by Fujifilm as it moved into healthcare in the 1990’s. Japan has been trialing this same drug and has given a $128 million grant to its research and production from the government but it has not yet been approved for us in COVID-19 patients.

Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the RDIF, said: “We believe this is a game changer. It will reduce strain on the healthcare system, we’ll have fewer people getting into a critical condition. We believe that the drug is key to resuming full economic activity in Russia.”

The drug will be given to hospitals beginning on 11 June, and enough of the treatment will be manufactured to treat around 60,000 people a month. Clinical trials of the drug have been conducted involving 330 people, and have successfully treated the virus within four days for most patients. However, these small scale trials without the use of a placebo or comparable treatment are no guarantee of the drug’s effectiveness.

Russia say it was able to cut testing timescales due to the Japanese version undergoing similar testing in 2014, before Russian specialists recently modified it.

Russia currently has the third highest number of infections in the world, behind the US and Brazil, but has a relatively low death rate. However, it is speculated this is due to a number of factors including the suppression of information by the Putin government and a lack of testing, meaning many deaths are not being reported as related to COVID-19.

Conor Kavanagh

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