China on Monday gave a conditional green light to repurpose a drug, which is typically used to threat certain HIV-1 virus infections, for "normal type" COVID infections, Reuters reports, citing the National Medical Products Administration.
The drug, Azvudine, is made by Genuine Biotech, was approved in July 2021 to treat specific HIV infections.
In a late-stage clinical trial, 40.4% of patients taking Azvudine showed improvement in symptoms seven days after first taking the drug, compared with 10.9% in the control group, Henan province-based Genuine Biotech said in a statement earlier this month, without providing detailed readings. -Reuters
"Normal type" COVID is defined as coronavirus infections which include signs of pneumonia, but where the patient hasn't progressed to a severe stage.
The drug's approval marks the latest step in China's shift from a "zero Covid" policy of lockdowns, to accepting that the virus is now endemic - and apparently can be treated with an AIDS medication.
The availability of effective COVID vaccines and treatments is crucial in laying the groundwork for China's potential pivoting from its "dynamic COVID zero" policy, which aims to eliminate every outbreak - however small - and relies on mass testing and strict quarantining. -Reuters
In February, China approved Pfizer's oral Paxlovid treatment for adults suffering mild-to-moderate COVID who are at high risk of progressing to severe disease.