TOKYO, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- The Japanese Ministry of Health approved a new drug on Friday that allegedly kills the flu virus in just 24 hours, which would be a major breakthrough in combating influenza.
The tablet, which is called Xofluza, could soon prove to be a significant competitor to Swiss drug giant Roche's Tamiflu, one of the most common drugs used to treat the flu.
According to the Japanese drug maker Shionogi, Xofluza requires far fewer doses than Tamiflu. Patients only need to take just a single pill instead of two doses per day for five days.p Shionogi also says that Xofluza can kill the flu virus within 24 hours as it stops virus replication in its tracks by inhibiting an enzyme that the flu virus needs to multiply.
China announced the research and development of a vaccine to protect people against four subtypes of seasonal influenza viruses last week. It is expected to be available on the Chinese market in the second half of 2018, a Chinese health official said.
The World Health Organization says seasonal flu is an acute respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses which circulate in all parts of the world. Annual epidemics of influenza are estimated to result in 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness and 290,000 to 650,000 deaths worldwide.
The ongoing flu season has strongly affected several countries with at least 129 deaths having been reported in total in January.