The experts have "unanimously" suggested the drug be included in the next version of the treatment guidelines and applied in wider clinical trials as soon as possible, Sun Yanrong, deputy head of the China National Center for Biotechnology Development under the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), said at a press conference.
Chloroquine Phosphate, which has been used for more than 70 years, was selected from tens of thousands of existing drugs after multiple rounds of screening, Sun said.
According to her, the drug has been under clinical trials in over 10 hospitals in Beijing, as well as in south China's Guangdong Province and central China's Hunan Province, and has shown fairly good efficacy.
In the trials, the groups of patients who had taken the drug have shown better indicators than their parallel groups, in statement of fever, improvement of CT images of lungs, the percentage of patients who became negative in viral nucleic acid tests and the time they need to do so, she said.
Patients taking the drug also take a shorter time to recover, she added.
Sun gave an example of a 54-year-old patient in Beijing, who was admitted to hospital four days after showing symptoms. After taking the drug for a week, he saw all indicators improve and the nucleic acid turn negative.
On Feb. 15, several departments including the MOST, the National Health Commission and the National Medical Products Administration called a video conference to listen to drug research and clinical experts' opinions on the drug's efficacy on Covid-19.
The expert team, led by Zhong Nanshan, a renowned respiratory specialist and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, agreed that Chloroquine Phosphate can be used to treat more Covid-19 patients, Sun said.
Previous in vitro experiments showed that it can block virus infections by changing the acidity and basicity value inside the cell and interfering receptors of SARS coronavirus.
It also shows immune-modulating activity, which may enhance its antiviral effect in vivo and is widely distributed in the whole body, including the lungs, after oral administration.
WHO, China begin field inspections
A joint expert team consisting of experts from China and the World Health Organization on Monday began field inspections on the prevention and control of the Covid-19.
The expert team will go to Beijing, Guangdong Province and Sichuan Province to conduct inspections, said Mi Feng, spokesperson for the National Health Commission (NHC), at a press conference on Monday.
A symposium was held by the NHC Sunday, which was attended by nearly 80 people, including joint expert team members and representatives from the State Council's joint prevention and control mechanism, Mi said.
At the symposium, NHC deputy director Li Bin briefed attendees on nationwide prevention and control measures, vowed to work with the international community to address the challenge of the epidemic and welcomed suggestions from the expert team, according to Mi.
Representatives from State Council ministries and administrations introduced their prevention and control work. The attendees talked with Hubei, the virus-hit province, during a teleconference, and discussed the epidemic situation, control and prevention measures in communities and rural areas, wildlife management and drug and vaccine development.
The joint expert team acknowledged China's prevention and control measures, as well as the dedication of Chinese medical workers, Mi said. (Xinhua)