An overseas clinical trial suggests Jinhua Qinggan granules, a traditional Chinese medicine, are effective in treating mild cases of Covid-19, according to a study published earlier this week.
The article published on medRxiv, an online publisher of preliminary medical research results, said a trial in August involving 300 volunteers at a Pakistani hospital showed it was effective in treating mild presentations of the disease.
Study participants, all adult Pakistanis with mild symptoms, were randomly assigned to receive either 5g of Jinhua Qinggan or placebo granules three times a day for 10 days.
The participants were divided into two groups of 150. A total of 256 patients completed the study, 129 taking Jinhua Qinggan and 127 the placebo.
The treatment using Jinhua Qinggan showed greater clinical efficacy at 82.67% after 10 days, compared to the placebo group at 10.74%, the researchers found.
Jinhua Qinggan, sometimes known as JHQG, has 12 ingredients including honeysuckle, Baikal skullcap root and sweet wormwood.
The median time to recovery from Covid-19-related symptoms, including cough, sputum, sore throat, dyspnea, headache, nasal obstruction, fatigue and myalgia, was “shorter in the JHQG group” compared to the placebo group, the researchers said.
The study was carried out by a multinational team from the University of Karachi and Indus Hospital Karachi; the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen); Hong Kong Baptist University School of Chinese Medicine; and Beijing Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital at Capital Medical University.
But the team acknowledged that the study did not include patients with serious underlying medical conditions, a group that faces a higher risk of Covid-19 disease progression.
The research is part of Beijing’s effort to prove to the international community how effective TCM can be in treating Covid-19. TCM has been widely used in mainland China to treat Covid-19, often in combination with Western medicine.
As of early 2020, Jinhua Qinggan has been one of three TCMs recommended for use in mainland China’s national standard treatment for Covid-19. Lianhua Qingwen and Xuebijing are the other two.
In January, Beijing sent a delegation to meet the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in Geneva to present a report on the use of TCM in the treatment of Covid-19.
Last week, a top TCM expert also suggested mass distribution of the remedy as a treatment for people in Shanghai to combat the Omicron variant.
In an interview with state broadcaster CGTN on May 10, Zhang Boli, deputy of the National People’s Congress and director of Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said, “We conducted traditional Chinese medicine treatments on a large scale…for patients such as close contacts, secondary contacts and our medical staff.”
Zhang, who has been heavily involved in China’s Covid-19 containment efforts, believes TCM’s intervention can help the elderly against the coronavirus and recover fully soon after.
“Almost 80% of them are in stable condition after TCM treatment and finally discharged from hospital after recovery,” he said.
The WHO has strongly recommended Pfizer’s Paxlovid to treat Covid-19. While Beijing has approved the orally administered drug for home use, it hopes to see breakthroughs in the development of its own oral medicine for the disease.
On Wednesday, May 18, the first clinical study of the Chinese antiviral oral drug against Omicron – VV116 – was published in the journal Emerging Microbes and Infections.
The researchers said that VV116 could effectively treat patients infected with the Omicron variant who show mild symptoms in the early stages. However, the drug should be administered within the first five days of infection.
VV116 is an anti-Sars-CoV-2 oral nucleoside candidate jointly developed by the Shanghai Institute of Medical Materials of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The drug has been approved for the treatment of Covid-19 in Uzbekistan and is being studied in several phase 3 clinical trials involving patients with the disease.
The latest research was co-authored by Chinese epidemiologist Zhang Wenhong, who leads an expert group on Covid-19 control and treatment in Shanghai.
Carried out in March, the study focused on hospitalized Covid-19 patients. Most had mild symptoms and 89% had been vaccinated with one or more doses. In the VV116 group, participants received 300 mg of VV116 orally every 12 hours for five days.
The results showed that the 60 patients who received VV116 within five days of their first positive test had a shorter viral shedding time than the 76 members of the control group.
Those in the VV116 group spent an average of 8.56 days to test negative for Covid-19, compared to 11.13 days for the control group. No serious adverse effects were reported in either group.
This article first appeared in the South China Morning Post.