China approves Genuine Biotech's HIV drug for Covid-19 patients

China approves Genuine Biotech's HIV drug for Covid-19 patients
People get tested for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) at a mobile nucleic acid testing site outside a shopping mall in Beijing, China, on March 16, 2022.
PHOTO: Reuters

BEIJING - China on Monday (July 25) gave conditional approval to domestic firm Genuine Biotech's Azvudine pill to treat certain adult patients with Covid-19, adding another oral treatment option against the coronavirus.

The availability of effective Covid-19 vaccines and treatments is crucial in laying the groundwork for China's potential pivoting from its "dynamic Covid zero" policy, which aims to eliminate every outbreak - however small - and relies on mass testing and strict quarantining.

The Azvudine tablet, which China approved in July last year to treat certain HIV-1 virus infections, has been given a conditional green light to treat adult patients with "normal type" Covid-19, the National Medical Products Administration said in a statement.

"Normal type" Covid-19 is a term China uses to refer to coronavirus infections where there are signs of pneumonia, but the patients haven't reached a severe stage.

China in February allowed the use of Pfizer's oral treatment Paxlovid in adults with mild-to-moderate Covid-19 and a high risk of progressing to a severe condition. In 2020, it approved the use of Lianhuaqingwen capsules, a traditional Chinese medicine-style formula, to alleviate symptoms of Covid-19 such as fever and cough.

In a late-stage clinical trial, 40.4 per cent of patients taking Azvudine showed improvement in symptoms seven days after first taking the drug, compared with 10.9 per cent in the control group, Henan province-based Genuine Biotech said in a statement earlier this month, without providing detailed readings.

Other Chinese companies developing potential oral Covid-19 treatments include Shanghai Junshi Biosciences and Kintor Pharmaceutical.

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