In the absence of a vaccine, drugs are the only option to save coronavirus patients. A member of the Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board says that the use of favipiravir, a drug whose local production is currently underway, helps to decrease the pneumonia rate among patients.
Associate professor Afşin Emre Kayıpmaz said the data showed the drug is more effective in the early stages of the disease to protect the lungs.
Favipiravir, also known as avigan, is administered to reduce the duration of the disease and to improve the condition of the lungs. Turkey has imported the drug from China. Currently, four Turkish firms produce a local version of the drug. Kayıpmaz says no drug is “100% effective” against the virus but favipiravir has proven efficient so far. “Every patient is administered favipiravir now, either at the hospitals or at home in self-isolation. It is administered both to hospitalized patients and those discharged from the hospital. It has low side effects and is cheaper due to its local production,” Kayıpmaz told Demirören News Agency (DHA) on Friday.
The drug was administered to intubated patients at first but proved more effective when administered in the early stages. Kayıpmaz says Turkey has the advantage of having adequate favipiravir stocks. “In other countries, its use is confined to intensive care patients (due to low stocks). I believe Turkey will reap the benefits of the drug use in fighting the outbreak soon,” he said.
Turkey on Thursday confirmed 1,412 new coronavirus cases and 19 deaths from COVID-19, while the country conducted 92,301 tests to diagnose the virus, taking the total tally to more than 6.06 million, according to Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.
The total number of registered cases rose to 251,805. Koca added that nearly 9,400 contact tracing units were actively working on the ground.
The number of recoveries reached 234,797 as of Tuesday evening, with 882 more patients having overcome the disease.
Warning against 'normal'
The steady rate of daily cases above 1,000 has prompted concern among the country’s pandemic task force. Professor Ahmet Demircan, another member of the Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, says people “normalized” too much, in reference to the normalization process that started in June. Turkey gradually eased restrictions on daily life that month but under strict measures, namely mandatory use of masks and warnings over social distancing. “We see people putting masks on their arms rather than their face,” Demircan lamented.
Demircan said the normalization process was “a loan” for people and “if they spend it without thinking much,” restrictions can be reintroduced. “We are too relaxed and this increases the number of cases. Everyone should heed the rules, whether it is summer or winter,” Demircan told Ihlas News Agency (IHA) on Friday. He said observing the rules and helping decrease the number of cases was vital for the reopening of schools, a thorny issue for many countries. Turkey plans to start in-person classes on Sept. 21, with high-level measures against the possibility of infections. “We are working not to put our children’s health at risk and preventing them from infecting adults. Yet, the rise in cases worries us. It is up to us to bring the caseload down so schools can be reopened safely,” he pointed out.
He said Turkey was successful in contact tracing and increasing the number of tests, adding, “but this is about the aftermath of the infection.” “What really matters is not to be infected and spread it. We have to respect people’s rights. Unfortunately, people do not care. You see beaches full of people. This worries health care workers. People not protecting themselves and endangering the lives of health care workers after they are hospitalized is a threat,” he said.