Pharmacists check prescription information at a fever clinic in Minhang district of Shanghai on Jan 8. The small molecule drugs to treat COVID-19 had been put into use in community health centers in Shanghai to better play their roles in "early detection, early intervention and early diversion". (WANG XIANG/XINHUA)
Domestically developed COVID-19 drug therapies lower risk of hospitalization
China will create broad-spectrum treatments to tackle mutated strains of the COVID-19 virus and develop drugs with novel mechanisms to fight the pathogen, according to a document provided to China Daily.
As of Jan 19, a total of 10 domestically made COVID-19 drugs had either been granted official or conditional market approval or were authorized to treat symptoms of the pathogen, the document stated.
The document was issued by the specialized team for COVID-19 medicine research and development under the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council, China's Cabinet.
China also had 23 drugs on the key COVID-19 medicine list that were in active development or undergoing real-world evidence studies after receiving market approval, it said.
"The team will continue to facilitate the development of safe and effective treatments that can cover the whole course of the disease and are suitable for all populations," it added.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, China's novel coronavirus drug development process has followed three broad technical paths- stopping the virus from entering cells, inhibiting viral replication in the body and regulating the body's immune system.
In December 2021, China granted official market approval to its first homegrown neutralizing monoclonal neutralizing antibody cocktails - BRII-196 and BRII-198. It is a combination therapy administered through intravenous infusion that can lower the risk of hospitalization and death by nearly 80 percent, according to its phase-three clinical trial results.
Meanwhile, Chinese scientists have been developing small-molecule oral treatments for COVID-19.A breakthrough came in July when China granted conditional authorization for the oral antiviral Azvudine to treat COVID-19. The drug was originally used to treat HIV.
This year, China will accelerate the development of small-molecule oral drugs. In mid-January, the National Medical Products Administration received applications for market approval for new antivirals SIM0417 and VV116. Another antiviral called RAY1216 had recently finished recruiting for its late-stage clinical trials.
Besides finding treatments for COVID-19, Chinese scientists are researching new drugs to prevent infections or regulate the body's immune system, with a handful of candidates currently in phase two or three clinical trials. Some notable examples include the targeted inhibitor drug TDI01 and HY3000 peptide nasal spray.