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                  China Daily

                  News> Nation> Content
                  Thursday, February 13, 2020, 14:16
                  Results from Chinese drug trials for coronavirus 'due in weeks'
                  By Reuters
                  Thursday, February 13, 2020, 14:16 By Reuters

                  World Health Organization (WHO) Assistant Director-General Marie-Paule Kieny of France speaks during a press conference at WHO headquarters in Geneva on Jan 9, 2015. (FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP)

                  GENEVA - Chinese scientists are testing two antiviral drugs against the novel coronavirus and preliminary clinical trial results are weeks away, the co-chair of a World Health Organization (WHO) meeting said on Wednesday.

                  Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, a former WHO virologist, co-chaired the two-day, closed-door research forum in Geneva of more than 300 scientists and researchers, including some who took part virtually from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan.

                  A number of patients have already been dosed with a combination of the antiviral drugs ritonavir and lopinavir, said a WHO expert, adding that it “would be excellent if it would work because this drug is available in particular as a generic formulation for the treatment of HIV, so this would clearly be a drug that would be available”

                  “The Chinese colleagues are very eager to participate in protocols which are being defined so that all the clinical trials are done according to the same standards and are looking towards the same outcome,” she said at a news conference. “They were very interested in working on such a master protocol.”

                  The coronavirus, now dubbed COVID-19, that emerged in central China in December has infected more than 44,000 people and killed over 1,100 on the Chinese mainland and has spread to at least 24 other countries.

                  ALSO READ: WHO: Vaccine for coronavirus could be ready in 18 mths

                  Kieny said quite a number of patients have already been dosed with a combination of the antiviral drugs ritonavir and lopinavir, but she did not have an exact count.

                  It “would be excellent if it would work because this drug is available in particular as a generic formulation for the treatment of HIV, so this would clearly be a drug that would be available,” Kieny said.

                  The combination HIV therapy is sold under the brand name Kaletra by AbbVie Inc.

                  It remains to be seen whether the treatment will prove effective against the new virus, she said. “We don’t know the result, and we still have to wait for a few days, or a few weeks to have a result.”

                  READ MORE: Efforts on drugs should be enhanced, scientist says

                  A state-run Chinese research institute applied last week for a patent on the use of the experimental antiviral drug remdesivir from US-based Gilead Sciences Inc, which scientists hope may be effective against the coronavirus.

                  “They will very soon start to dose patients on remdesivir ... which had been tested without much success with Ebola, but Ebola virus and coronavirus are different and it may have a better success with corona,” Kieny said.

                  “But we will have to wait for a few weeks whether this gives any positive signal.”


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