The video of the Italian Cristiano Aresu, from Japan, who claims that the antiviral Avigan is effective for the treatment of Coronavirus, is popular on Facebook.
A hope coming from Japan? In these hours, a video on Facebook has gone viral, in which a drug (according to the author) very effective against the Coronavirus is presented: the antiviral Avigan. The video was recorded in Japan by Cristian Aresu, an Italian who lives and works in Yokohama. The film documents a quiet afternoon in one of Tokyo’s main squares. The author is framed in the foreground and illustrates with great emphasis the strategy that Japan is adopting to fight the Coronavirus. In particular, Aresu talks about an antiviral drug used in hospitals to fight the virus: Avigan. It is an antiviral drug developed in 2014 by the Japanese group Fujifilm Toyama Chemical. Aresu says that “Avigan is an anti flu until recently sold in pharmacies: here they discovered that when administered at the first symptoms of coronavirus, swabbed, it blocks the progress of the disease in 91% of cases. Avigan has been used in Japan to treat many of the already known strains of the Coronavirus but then they realized that it cures 90% of Coronavirus cases. In fact, when I arrived here in Japan it was empty from fear but then a couple of weeks ago they started experimenting with this drug and saw that it works well. So, people started to live their daily lives as you can see from the live pictures” concludes Aresu.
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Coronavirus: AIFA clarifies Avigan antiviral
The video caused a stir all over the world, going viral in a matter of hours. But what’s true about this infamous Avigan? In fact, the issue is very controversial and in the last few hours a clarifying intervention by AIFA, the Italian Medicines Agency, has been necessary. “The medicine – AIFA clarifies in a note – is not authorized in Europe or in the USA. To date, there are no published clinical studies on the efficacy and safety of the drug in the treatment of Covid-19 disease. Only preliminary data are known, currently available only as a pre-proof (i.e. not yet under expert review) version of a small, non-randomised trial, conducted in patients with Covid-19 not severe with no more than 7 days onset, in which the drug favipiravir was compared to the antiviral lopinavir/ritonavir (also not authorised for the treatment of Covid-19 disease), in addition, in both cases, to interferon alpha-1b by aerosol. Although the available data seem to suggest a potential favipiravir activity, in particular with regard to the rate at which the virus disappears from the blood and on some radiological aspects, there is a lack of data on the actual efficacy in clinical use and disease evolution. The same authors report as limitations of the study that the relationship between viral titer and clinical prognosis has not been well clarified and that, since this is not a controlled clinical trial, there could be inevitable selection bias in patient recruitment”.
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