Russia claims it’s developed first Covid-19 ‘antidote’ with 99% effectiveness

Russia claims to have successfully developed the world's first "antidote" to Covid-19.

Early tests have shown the antiviral drug to be more than 99% effective, according to the Federal Medical and Biological Agency (FMBA).

"This is the first etiotropic drug that directly affects the virus," Veronika Skvortsova, head of the FMBA, told the Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.

"In fact, this is an antidote for coronavirus infection."

She said pre-clinical studies have been completed showing the eriotropic (meaning it attacks the cause of a disease) treatment to be both "highly efficient" and "completely safe".

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The FMBA hopes to obtain permission for further testing in the coming days.

"If clinical trials confirm the effectiveness of this drug, it will be the first safe, effective, direct-acting antiviral drug that has no analogs in the world," Ms Skvortsova said.

In June, Russia had approved the anti-influenza drug Aviifavir for use in treating Covid-19 patients after trials seemed to show that it shortened recovery times.

Meanwhile Remdesivir has been used as an antiviral treatment in Covid-19 patients in several countries such as the US.

However its effectiveness has been widely debated and the World Health Organisation recommended against its use in November.

The FMBA is also working on a different treatment for the most complex coronavirus cases which would suppress and prevent the immune response known as hypercytokinemia, which can cause tissue damage and is thought to be behind many Covid-19 deaths.

Russia's medical response to the coronavirus pandemic has been criticised by the international community.

For months the government refused to be transparent about its number of cases, and only this week finally admitted to the world's third-highest death toll.

It rushed its own vaccine, Sputnik V, through the approval process and President Vladimir Putin ordered a mass vaccination programme in early December.

More than 200,000 vulnerable citizens have since received the vaccine, which trials have supposedly indicated is 95% effective.

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