The eastern African nation of Rwanda appears to be joining dozens of others nations worldwide and accepting Favipiravir as a treatment for COVID-19. The oral, antiviral medication developed in Japan by FUJIFILM Toyama Chemicals was first registered in Russia followed by several other countries. Its also used in China. Recently, the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) shared that the drug is evidencing “good results” in the treatment of patients with early onset mild cases of SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19. Already this nation of 12.6 million people has apparently procured 18,000 doses. As the drug is already in use to treat patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana, Director-General for the RBC shared that medics are apparently observing a positive trend with the antiviral drug.
Originally developed in Japan, the antiviral was approved in that country in 2014. Japan uses the drug (called Avigan) there as a stock pile for influenza pandemics. While a few Favipiravir studies are ongoing in the U.S. a large Indian generic company, Dr. Reddy’s quietly submitted a request for market authorization for Favipiravir with Health Canada. They are partnered with Canada-based Appili Therapeutics. The RBC is reported to be considering monoclonal antibodies as well here.
COVID-19 in Rwanda
Rwanda has been relatively spared by the coronavirus although seven day case averages, running over 300 in January of this year is far more than was the case during the first wave of the pandemic which was over the summer here. With 16,621 total cases now in the country, 223 have died from the disease.
Back in July, NPR did a report on this eastern African nation showcasing its successes in controlling COVID-19.
The Director-General POV
According to recent new entry from New Times, Director-General Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana was quoted about Favipiravir, “The medicine is performing well. We are using it on mild cases and have seen good outcomes. For example, when patients with symptoms like headache and tiredness were given the drug, their situation improved.”
About Rwanda Biomedical Centre
Based in Kigali, the Rwanda Biomedical Centre was established by law on January 25, 2011 to become a center of excellence and pursuit of quality health, research and education across Rwanda.
Other Countries Accepting Favipiravir
TrialSite perhaps more than any other Western media platform has chronicled Favipiravir studies around the world. A generic version of the drug was authorized in Russia (Avifavir) while the drug’s also in use in Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Moldova, and Kazakhstan. The drug has apparently been granted an approval in Saudi Arabia and the UAE according to New Times. That Saudi Arabia had authorized Favipiravir was authorized in another press release. The Kingdom signed up with India’s Glenmark Pharmaceuticals as that company had developed a generic version of Favipiravir called “FabiFlu” for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 patients. The same news release confirmed that Favipiravir was in use commercially in the therapeutic management of COVID-19 in Bangladesh and UAE.
The U.S. Department of Defense injected over $200 million into a Favipiravir clinical trials program in 2015, reported TrialSite.