Chinese experts are trialling old malaria drugs as part of their efforts to develop a cure for coronavirus.

There are currently no proven treatments for the deadly infection and a working vaccine is thought to be at least a year away.

It’s hoped that strict quarantines in China and elsewhere will contain the virus’ spread long enough for scientists to develop the tools to fight it.

To try and help speed that process up, researchers are seeking to repurpose a number of existing drugs in a bid to find something that also works against the new bug, named Covid-19.

Anti-malaria medicine chloroquine phosphate is being tested on more than 100 patients across 10 hospitals in China as well as in the provinces of Guangdong and Hunan.



Sun Yanrong, deputy head of the China National Center for Biotechnology Development under the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), said experts ‘unanimously’ put it forward to be applied in wider clinical trials as soon as possible.

The drug, which has been used for more than 70 years, was picked from thousands of existing medicines after multiple rounds of screening.

Sun said that groups of patients administered chloroquine phosphate fared better than those in the trials who hadn’t.

Their fever subsided further, they showed better improvement in CT scans of their lungs and a higher percentage of them recovered in less time.

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