Russia is claiming to be the first to bring to market a effective, direct-acting antiviral drug to treat symptoms of COVID-19.

Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, RDIF, and pharmaceutical group ChemRar announced they will deliver 60,000 courses of their drug, Avifavir to hospitals in Russia this month.

ChemRar stated "Avifavir is Russia's first Covid-19 drug and has shown high efficacy in treating patients with coronavirus during clinical trials. Avifavir has received a registration certificate from the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation. Thus, Avifavir has become the first Favipiravir-based drug in the world approved for the treatment of Covid-19.”

The press release notes the drug has been extensively tested as a treatment for symptoms of influenza since 2014 contributing to the drugs fast pace to market for COVID-19.

This month, ChemRar will conduct clinical trials in 330 individuals in 30 to 35 medical centers.

“Avifavir more than halves the duration of the disease, ensuring most patients are free of infection after the fifth day of treatment, which helps to more successfully fight the virus and protects Russian hospitals from being overwhelmed.” said ChemRar. “Afivavir [sic] is not only the first antiviral drug registered against coronavirus in Russia, but it is also perhaps the most promising anti-COVID-19 drug in the world.”

Today, South Korea’s Celltrion announced “Pre-clinical data for Celltrion’s antiviral antibody treatment candidate demonstrate a 100-fold reduction in viral load of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), as well as improvement in lung lesions.” They plan testing their own drug treatment in humans this July.

“This announcement follows the identification of antibody candidates for an antiviral treatment which Celltrion completed in April. In response to these positive results, Celltrion will now conduct additional efficacy and toxicity testing in pre-clinical settings and anticipates starting first-in-human clinical trials in July.”

The initial study used ferrets as an animal model. Subsequent studies will continue in hamsters, mice, and monkeys.