Favipiravir was first approved in Japan (2014) to treat cases of influenza. Influenza is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system. It is commonly called ‘flu’. For most people, influenza resolves on its own. But, sometimes, its complications can be deadly. Initially, the flu may seem like a common cold with a runny nose and sore throat whereas the flu tends to come on suddenly. Although a cold can be a nuisance, you usually feel much worse with the flu. Flu viruses travel through the air in droplets when someone with the infection sneezes, coughs, or talks. People with the virus are likely contagious from the day or so before symptoms first appear until about 5 days after symptoms begin.

Now, China is battling the novel coronavirus for the past 3 months and has completed the clinical research of Favipiravir. This medicine is an influenza drug which was approved for clinical use in Japan (2014). This has shown good clinical efficacy against COVID-19. The coronavirus has shown signs of gradually abating in China including in the epicenter Wuhan. The virus was first reported in Wuhan in December (2019). Results showed that patients who received Favipiravir turned negative for the virus in a shorter time compared with patients in some control group. Researchers are suggesting that this drug should be included in the diagnosis treatment plan for COVID-19.

COVID-19 is a newly identified disease that has caused a recent outbreak of respiratory illness. The virus causing coronavirus disease is not similar to the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans. In which, it causes mild illness like the common cold. Coronaviruses are a type of virus that has different kinds which some cause disease. Patients with this infection will be evaluated and cared for differently than patients with common coronavirus diagnosis.

Favipiravir is specifically made to treat RNA viruses. These viruses have a main genetic material of RNA rather than RNA. The drug stops some viruses from replicating by crippling the enzyme called RNA polymerase. It is a substance that gets chemical reactions going. Without that enzyme intact, the virus cant duplicate its genetic material efficiently once inside a host cell.

How researchers used Favipiravir in patients infected with COVID-19?

This medication is used in a recent study with some patients. On day one, the group – comprising 35 people all whom had a confirmed diagnosis of the infection and met the trial criteria, took 1,600 mg of Favipiravir twice in separate doses. Along with Favipiravir, there is an additional inhaled interferon as well. On day two, this group reduced the dose into 600 mg twice a day and kept taking the inhaled interferon. Those who took inhaled Favipiravir, cleared the virus in an average of 4 days. The drug also showed a significant improvement in chest imaging.

The researchers say that, in this open-label non-randomized control study, Favipiravir showed significantly better treatment effects on COVID-19. It may be in terms of disease progression and viral clearance.