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Japan to launch clinical trial of HIV drug to fight coronavirus pneumonia

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga (Mainichi/Masahiro Kawata)

TOKYO -- Clinical trials to test if an existing HIV drug can be an effective treatment for pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus are set to start in Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced at a Feb. 18 news conference.

"Centered on the National Center for Global Health and Medicine (NCGM), preparations are being made for the early commencement of clinical trials using an HIV drug" to treat COVID-19, Suga told reporters. Similar trials have already been reported to be under way in China and other countries, and the Japanese government is looking to move the research forward quickly.

However, Suga added that he would refrain from projecting when the drug would or could be approved for use in the coronavirus fight.

Studies in Thailand and other nations have reported that drugs to treat HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, are effective against COVID-19 pneumonia. In Japan, NCGM doctors have apparently received permission from patients to be included in the trial, and are already administering the HIV drug.

(Japanese original by Shinichi Akiyama, Political News Department)

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