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Duterte in talks with Abe to test Japan’s COVID-19 anti-flu drug

President Rodrigo Duterte has discussed with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe the Philippines’ readiness to participate in the clinical trial for Avigan, Japan’s anti-flu drug against coronavirus disease or COVID-19. Abe confirmed that more than 50 countries have expressed interest in testing the medicine.

Photo: Facebook/Presidential Communications (Government of the Philippines)

The two leaders recently took part in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Plus Three Summit on COVID-19, which was held on April 14, 2020, Tuesday.

Participating countries in the summit were ASEAN member states Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, along with China, Japan, and South Korea.

Production of Avigan, the brand name of Japan’s anti-flu drug favipiravir, will be ramped up significantly as it undergoes testing as a potential vaccine against COVID-19. The drug’s developer, Fujifilm Holdings Corp., is currently conducting clinical trials with COVID-19 patients located in Japan and in the United States. On April 7, Fujifilm shared in a statement that it would be giving Avigan for free to 20 countries.

Favipiravir works by preventing the growth of the virus in infected cells. Earlier in March, an official from China’s Ministry of Science and Technology shared how favipiravir had been effective in treating COVID-19 patients in Wuhan and in Shenzhen. A study revealed how patients recovered four days instead of the control group’s 11 days. Another study showed how patients tested negative for the virus two days earlier than those who did not take the drug.

As of April 15, 2020, the Philippines has a total of 5,453 cases of COVID-19, with 353 recoveries and 349 deaths.

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