China sanctions drug vs COVID-19
Date Published: February 18, 2020
The city government of Taizhou in Zhejiang, China, declared on Sunday, February 16, that antiviral drug Favilavir, which had shown efficacy in treating the deadly novel coronavirus, had been approved for marketing.
According to a China Daily report, Favilavir is the first anti-novel coronavirus drug authorized for marketing by China's regulatory body, the National Medical Products Administration.
The report said the drug, which was developed by the Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical Company, was one of 3 drugs that showed significant efficacy in clinical trials. Favilavir was put into production on Sunday, according to the report.
Scientists from the United States to Australia are using new technology to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease called COVID-19. In the United Kingdom, a team of scientists said they are one of the first to start animal testing of a vaccine for the virus.
The death toll from the novel coronavirus has reached 1,873, as almost half of China's 1.3 billion-strong population remains subject to varying forms of travel restrictions and other quarantine measures.
On Tuesday, Liu Zhiming, director of the Wuchang hospital in Wuhan, the city at the center of the outbreak, himself died of the virus, according to a statement released by local government authorities.
Liu was a neurosurgeon and is the first hospital director to die as a result of the coronavirus epidemic. His death could renew criticism that the government has not done enough to protect frontline medical workers, many of whom are overworked and overstretched. Also on Tuesday, state media reported that doctors and nurses who die while trying to contain the outbreak will officially be designated as "martyrs."
All but five deaths from the virus have occurred inside mainland China, where an additional 98 fatal cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, were reported Tuesday morning. The number of confirmed cases in China increased by 1,886, bringing the global total to over 73,325.
The vast majority of those cases have been in China, but concern has been growing in the past week over much smaller but growing outbreaks in Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong.
According to China's National Health Commission, since the outbreak began in December, more than 12,500 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospital.
Outside of Hubei, the province of which Wuhan is capital, the number of new cases has dropped for 14 consecutive days. Despite this apparent good news, stringent and often draconian measures are being ramped up in much of the country. This comes as authorities make an effort to return to something like normality in many major cities and commercial hubs, with the long break forced by the outbreak taking its toll on the country's economy. The Philippines, meanwhile, has a total of 521 patients under investigation for the novel coronavirus as of Monday. Of the country's 3 confirmed cases, one died due to severe pneumonia because of the virus, while the other two have since recovered.
On Monday, a committee headed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said that a "greater outbreak of the epidemic has been avoided through strengthened prevention and control measures," adding that "a positive trend has emerged nationwide in curbing the epidemic."