The finished pills cascade through the channels of a packaging machine during the manufacture of the antiviral drug Favipiravir, a joint venture between the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the ChemRar group, at a factory in Khimki, Russia, on Monday. May 18, 2020.
Russia approved an anti-influenza drug to treat Covid-19 and will begin teaching courses on the drug, Avifavir, to hospitals in June, according to the Russian Sovereign Fund (RDIF).
RDIF financed the Russian development and production of the drug, which is based on favipiravir, an anti-influenza drug developed in Japan under the name Avigan, in a 50-50 joint venture with Russian pharmaceutical company ChemRar.
Preliminary trials appeared to show that this could reduce the recovery time for patients with Covid-19. The final phase of clinical trials with Avifavir involving 330 patients is underway, RDIF and ChemRar said on Monday, but The Russian Ministry of Health on Saturday has already temporarily approved the use of the drug as a treatment for coronavirus.
"It is a big step forward," Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of RDIF, told CNBC on Monday.
"We believe that there are now only two antiviral drugs against the virus that are really effective, remdesivir, made by the USA, and this favipiravir, which also has significant promise," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe".
RDIF and the ChemRar Group said on Monday they would deliver 60,000 Avifavir courses to Russian hospitals in June, they said, promoting it as one of the first coronavirus treatments in the world to pass.
"Avifavir is the first Covid-19 drug in Russia and has demonstrated high effectiveness in treating patients with coronavirus during clinical trials. Avifavir has received a certificate of registration from the Russian Federation Ministry of Health. Thus, avifavir became the first medicine based on favipiravir. in the world approved for the treatment of Covid-19, "they said in the statement.
According to data received from a previous clinical trial of the drug, 65% of 40 patients tested negative for coronavirus after five days of treatment, which was twice as high as in the standard therapy group, RDIF and ChemRar said last month.
Russia has the third largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, with 405,843, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. The official death toll remains low, however, at 4,693.