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Russia backing antiviral drug Avifavir for Covid-19 fight good news for India: Scientists

Russia’s approval of the antiviral drug Avifavir to treat Covid-19 is good news for India as it is based on an influenza medication already in advanced clinical trials here, say scientists.

Avifavir, described by its developers in Russia as perhaps the most promising anti Covid-19 drug in the world, is derived from Favipiravir.  Mumbai-based Glenmark Pharmaceuticals announced last week that Favipiravir is under phase 3 clinical trials — the penultimate stage in drug testing — in India.

Stating that Avifavir has shown high efficacy in treating patients with coronavirus during clinical trials, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) on Monday said it will deliver 60,000 courses of the drug to Russian hospitals in June.

It also said Avifavir has become the first Favipiravir-based drug in the world to be approved for the treatment of COVID-19. The close derivative link between Avifavir and Favipiravir is reason for hope in India too, said scientists here. Favipiravir has anyway been in discussion and a point of interest in the recent past, said Arup Kumar Banerjee from the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, Siliguri.

He noted that Favipiravir is available under the name of Avigan for influenza and is often recommended for viral infections such as bunyavirus, filovirus and arenavirus.

“It is prescribed for severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS), a viral hemorrhagic fever with high fatality rate and is effective against all strains of influenza viruses,” Banerjee told PTI.

“Vaccine is important, so is antiviral. We need to develop both side by side. Today, if anybody comes up with a drug against COVID 19 irrespective of country or origin, it is a good news subject to validation of the same in large scale. Hence, the same applies to this derivative as well,” he added.

Avifavir, developed by a joint venture between RDIF and ChemRar Group, is designed to disrupt the ability of the novel coronavirus to reproduce.

“Avifavir is not only the first antiviral drug registered against coronavirus in Russia, but it is also perhaps the most promising anti Covid-19 drug in the world,” RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev said in a statement.

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