The emergency caused by novel coronavirus has made necessary to put all efforts in the search for a vaccine and a cure against this virus. The vaccine will take a bit more time, it is believed about one year, but for what concerns a cure several clinical trials are now being performed by using different drugs to treat patients infected by Covid-19. Together with the drugs used for Ebola, rheumatoid arthritis and HIV it was announced a few days ago that now there is also another drug, considered very promising, a Japanese flu drug whose testing phase has just been approved in Italy.
A study was performed by a team of Chinese scientists from Wuhan (Chen et al). However, we should anticipate that the study has yet to be evaluated by a commission of experts, that then will decide if it is suitable for publishing in a journal of the field. Usually, this would be the normal process but, since we are now in emergency, the study is online and is used by governments to decide the course of action, let’s try to understand better. The research is about the effects of a flu drug used in Japan, the favipiravir or better known with its commercial name avigan. On the basis of this research, the intake of avigan on patients with coronavirus, without severe symptoms and that have contracted the virus for no more than 7 days, has demonstrated a more effective action than other antiviral drugs such as the combination of lopinavir/ritonavir, the drugs used against HIV infection. In particular, it has been observed that in the patients who took favipiravir, the virus was solved earlier, by reducing the incidence of fever and cough. In addition to this, also chest radiography showed less damages. For this reason, the Aifa, the Italian drug agency, has decided to start clinical trials in some hospitals for the next weeks. However, it is important to be realist and to consider that these are preliminary results and that we’ll get a clearer idea on the effects of this drug only in the coming weeks.