China National Center for Biotechnology Development deputy head Sun Yanrong said that chloroquine, an anti-malarial medication, was selected after several screening rounds of thousands of existing drugs.
Xinhua reported that the drug is undergoing clinical trials in more than ten hospitals in Beijing, Guangdong province, and Hunan province.
Chloroquine data from Covid-19 trials
Data from the drug’s studies showed ‘certain curative effect’ with ‘fairly good efficacy’.
According to Sun, patients treated with chloroquine demonstrated a better drop in fever, improvement of lung CT images, and required a shorter time to recover compared to parallel groups.
The percentage of patients with negative viral nucleic acid tests was also higher with the anti-malarial drug.
Chloroquine has so far showed no obvious serious adverse reactions in the more than 100 participants in the trials.
The China National Center for Biotechnology Development head Zhang Xinmin said that chloroquine is one of the three drugs that have a promising profile against the new coronavirus, reported China Daily.
The remaining two drugs are anti-flu medicine favipiravir and Gilead’s investigational anti-viral candidate remdesivir.
Favipiravir is currently in a 70-patient trial in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, while remdesivir is under evaluation at more than ten medical institutions in Wuhan.
WSJ noted that remdesivir’s trials are progressing slower than expected due to the lack of eligible coronavirus patients. Around 200 of the trial’s target of 700 participants have been enrolled after ten days.