Saudi Arabia and Russia in talks on new anti-COVID-19 treatment

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on June 14, 2018. / AFP / Yuri KADOBNOV

RIYADH (RAHNUMA) Russia has developed a promising new treatment for the coronavirus COVID-19 which it could soon trial in partnership with Saudi Arabian health experts.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), the country’s sovereign wealth fund which has collaborated with the Kingdom on many investment projects, is set to unveil the new drug, Avifavir, at a virtual press conference in Moscow today (Mon).

RDIF said that the drug, which “has shown high efficacy in treating patients with coronavirus during clinical trials,” had received a registration certificate from the Russian health ministry.

Kirill Dmitriev, the RDIF chief executive, told Arab News: “We are in talks with our Saudi partners about possible supplies of Avifavir to Saudi Arabia. We shared with them the positive results of clinical trials in Russia. Our partners expressed interest in starting a clinical trial of Avifavir in the Kingdom.”

Avifavir, which disrupts the reproduction mechanisms of coronavirus, is the first Russian direct antiviral drug that has proven effective in clinical trials. The drug has been well studied, since it has been used in Japan since 2014 against severe forms of influenza, RDIF said.

Dmitriev added: “Afivavir is not only the first antiviral drug registered against coronavirus in Russia, but it is also perhaps the most promising anti-COVID-19 drug in the world. It was developed and tested in clinical trials in Russia in an unprecedentedly short period of time enabling Afivavir to become the first registered drug based on Favipiravir in the world.”

Favipiravir is a drug that has proven effective in the treatment of infected patients in China and in clinical trials in Russia. Preparations are currently underway for the mass production of the drug.

Avifavir proved to be highly effective during the clinical trials involving I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University, Lomonosov Moscow State University and other medical and academic institutions, it added.

The final stage of trials on 330 patients is ongoing with the approval of the Russian ministry of health. It was developed by RDIF in partnership with Chemrar, a Russian pharmaceuticals research and development group.

RDIF has invested significant resources into anti-COVID measures since the outbreak of the pandemic, developing a high speed testing kit along with Japanese partners, as well other diagnostic and support systems.

It is believed to be working on a vaccine against the virus which could soon be unveiled, according to Moscow sources.

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