AT THE Council of Scientific Industrial Research (CSIR), director-general Dr Shekhar Mande is optimistic about an approval for Favipiravir, an antiviral drug for emergency use against Covid-19, from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). “We are banking on data from clinical trials in Russia (where the FDA has approved the drug) and our own partial data and have asked for approval from DCGI for emergency use against Covid-19,” Dr Mande told The Indian Express.
Russia has enabled Afivavir, based on Favipiravir, to become the first registered drug against Covid-19; and in India, results on this antiviral drug will be out in a day or two.
The DG-CSIR said repurposed drugs were an attractive option as they were known to be safe against other diseases and there was reason to believe that it might work against Covid-19.
“Our focus is on repurposed drugs and there are 10 in our basket, where trials have commenced for some and will be off the ground in others,” Dr Mande said. Results of some of the trials will be out in eight to 10 days, he added. Three drug trials – namely ACQH, Favipiravir and Mycobacterium W – are underway. Favipiravir is used for certain influenza viruses and has shown some good results in China and Japan. In India, CSIR is currently involved in trials of Favipiravir with Cipla.
Dr Mande said he welcomed the move by World Health Organization (WHO) to restart the hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) arm of the Solidarity Trial. It may be recalled that Mande and other scientists had criticised the Lancet study that HCQ did not offer therapeutic benefits to severe Covid-19 cases and was associated with increased mortality.
He told The Indian Express on Wednesday that it was fitting now on the part of a highly respectable journal to issue an “expression of concern” for its readers.
“This is an observational study that has derived statistics and had to be based on sound rationale, which is clearly not so in this case,” Dr Mande said, adding that there were too many loopholes and a letter was sent to the Lancet editor stating drawbacks and asking them to reconsider the paper.
He said another letter was sent to WHO on its knee-jerk reaction for halting the HCQ part of the Solidarity Trial, which was underway and should not have been stopped. “If the drug does not work, then it does not work. But there has to be some rationale for that,” Dr Mande said, adding that they welcomed the move to resume the trial.
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