An Iranian antiviral drug proved successful in faster recovery of COVID-19 patients as scholars intend to apply it for treatment of the virus-infected cases after gaining government approval.
A team of Iranian doctors and researchers held a meeting on Saturday to announce the successful results of a clinical trial on the use of ReciGen, an interferon alfa-2b drug made in Iran, in curing patients infected with COVID-19.
The panel, led by Ali Akbar Velayati, a well-known professor of medical sciences, said that the new medicine had increased the rate of recovery in COVID-19 patients by almost five times.
“ReciGen is one of the drugs used to cure the corona (virus) disease which has proved very effective on patients,” said Velayati who himself was quarantined for a fortnight in March after contracting the virus.
He said that his team of scientists plans to gain the permissions from Iran’s health ministry to apply the drug on coronavirus patients in Masih Daneshvari Hospital, a main center of research and treatment on respiratory diseases in Tehran.
“We are going to unveil a drug for fighting corona (virus) that could have a great role in decreasing the death rate of patients,” said Velayati.
In relevant remarks in March, Head of Iran’s Food and Drug Administration (IFDA) Mohammad Reza Shanehsaz announced that a medicinal compound developed by Iranian researchers to treat coronavirus infection will be mass-produced and supplied to the market within the next 10 days.
“The raw materials for the production of these drugs were imported to the country yesterday,” Shanehsaz told FNA on March 21.
He added that the process to produce a fully Iran-made drug has started and Iranian hospitals will start taking the drug to treat the coronavirus patients in the next 7 to 10 days.
Shanehsaz said that successful clinical tests have been carried out on the drug compound and necessary licenses have been received, adding that the medicine will be supplied to the pharmacies in the next 10 days.
The Iranian health ministry announced on Saturday that 2,410 new cases of infection to COVID-19 virus have been diagnosed in the country in the past 24 hours, noting that a total number of 146,748 coronavirus patients have recovered and been dismissed from hospitals.
“2,410 more patients infected with COVID-19 virus have been identified in the country in the past 24 hours based on confirmed diagnosis tests,” Iranian Health Ministry Spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said on Saturday.
She noted that the total number of coronavirus patients in the country has increased to 184,955 people.
Sadat Lari expressed pleasure that 146,748 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospitals.
She said that 8,730 people have lost their lives due to infection to the virus, including 71 in the past 24 hours.
Sadat Lari said that 2,755 coronavirus patients are unfortunately in critical conditions.
The ministry’s spokeswoman, meantime, expressed concern over the situation of the 5 Iranian provinces of Khuzestan, Hormozgan, Khorassan Razavi, and Bushehr, considering their increasing number of coronavirus patients.
She added that 1,219,400 tests have been conducted in the country to diagnose patients suspected of infection to the COVID-19 virus.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said last Saturday that over 1,000 medical centers in the country have received necessary equipment to conduct tests on people suspected of infection to coronavirus, and added that Iran ranks first in the Muslim world in scientific achievements.
“Based on a report [by the health ministry], 1,200 centers across the country are ready to take samples and tests from people and 17,500 nursing and health homes are also prepared to provide hygiene and treatment services to people,” Rouhani said, addressing a meeting of the national coronavirus campaign headquarters in Tehran.
Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki stressed on April 7 effective measures to control coronavirus epidemic, expressing the hope that the disease would be controlled in Iran by late May.
“At present, the country is in the phase of disease management and we should not imagine that we have reached the harness and control phase. Today is the time for full-fledged combat against the virus. God willing, we will control coronavirus by late May. The virus should be controlled in the minimum possible time,” Namaki said, addressing the Iranian legislators in an open session of the parliament in Tehran.
He noted that at least 30% to 50% of hospital beds are still vacant across Iran and nearly 15,000 beds are ready to keep the patients who are recovering from coronavirus disease.
“We have now moved down to tank 6th in terms of deaths,” Namaki said, adding that the country’s situation in treatment of patients will improve in the next few days.
The coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting approximately all countries and territories around the world. The virus was first reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. It has so far killed more than 432,000 people and infected over 7.87 million others globally.
The Iranian foreign ministry declared that despite Washington’s claims of cooperation to transfer drugs to Iran via the new Swiss-launched payment mechanism, the US is troubling the process amid the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Although US claims that medicines and medical equipment are not under sanctions, they have practically blocked the transfer of Iran’s financial resources in other countries into the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA), Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi said.
As the death toll from the virus surges, Iran intensifies its preventive safety measures. Closures of schools and most universities have been extended until further notice.
The government also imposed travel restrictions, specially on Iran’s North, which is among the red zones. The country has also adopted strict digital health control procedures at airports to spot possible infections.
Namaki announced last month that a new national mobilization plan would be implemented across the country to fight against the coronavirus epidemic and more effectively treat patients.
Namaki said that the plan will include all the 17,000 health centers and the 9,000 medical and clinical centers in all cities, suburban areas and villages.
He added that the plan will include home quarantine, noting that infected people will receive the necessary medicines and advice, but they are asked to stay at home.
Namaki said that people with a more serious condition will stay at the hospitals, adding that the public places will be disinfected, the entries of infected towns and cities will be controlled to diagnose and quarantine the infected cases.
He added that the necessary equipment and facilities have been provided, expressing the hope that the epidemic would be curbed.
According to the latest statistics of Health Ministry, the number of medical laboratories to test coronavirus infection has reached over 90 across the country.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says Iran’s response to the virus has so far been up to the mark. Still, it says the US sanctions are a big challenge, and Washington would be complicit in the rising death toll in Iran if it would not remove its sanctions.
The World Health Organization has considered priorities in combating coronavirus and Islamic Republic of Iran obeys and follows up priorities as defined by WHO.
The WHO is dispatching separate delegations to all countries.