National / Science & Health

Japan to offer anti-flu Avigan drug to 20 virus-hit nations for free

Kyodo

Japan plans to provide the anti-flu drug Avigan for free to 20 countries hoping to use it to treat coronavirus patients, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Tuesday.

The 20 countries receiving the drug, which is currently undergoing clinical tests, include Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Iran, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, with an additional 30 countries showing interest, according to Motegi.

Japan will provide the United Nations Office for Project Services with a $1 million grant to buy and distribute the drug, also known as Favipiravir, which is developed by a subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings Corp.

“We will work with interested countries to expand clinical research on Avigan internationally,” the foreign minister told a news conference.

Researchers at Wuhan University and other institutions in China have said the drug was effective on coronavirus patients, especially for those with mild symptoms of COVID-19.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government plans to boost the stockpile of Avigan to three times the current amount for use in treating 2 million people infected with the new coronavirus.

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