Russia's sovereign wealth fund said on Thursday it will step up the production of the anti-viral drug Avifavir, an anti-influenza medicine which the Russian government has granted preliminary approval for treatment of COVID-19 patients.
The Russian health ministry gave its approval for the drug's use under a special accelerated process in May. Its Russian backers say it has shown a benefit in COVID-19 patients in early research.
The first 100,000 treatment courses were delivered last month to 35 Russian regions, as well as to neighboring Belarus, said the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) which has promoted the drug.
RDIF said it was now set to produce more than 100,000 courses in July and that a joint venture with pharmaceutical firm ChemRar Group would allow it to increase production threefold to meet growing demand both domestically and internationally.
Kirill Dmitriev, the head of RDIF, said Russia was ready to help other nations fight the virus and that more than 50 countries had expressed their interest in the drug.
There is now no vaccine against COVID-19. The inexpensive anti-inflammatory drug dexamethasone has been shown to reduce the death rate in severe cases, and the anti-viral drug remdesivir has been shown to speed recovery. Nearly all the world's supply of remdesivir was bought by the United States.
Russia said on Thursday it had recorded 6,760 new cases of novel coronavirus infection in the last 24 hours, in line with figures in recent days. That brought its confirmed total to 661,165 cases, the third highest in the world after Brazil and the United States.
After imposing a strict lockdown, the authorities have largely lifted restrictions on movement and business, despite thousands of new cases a day. International flights remain banned, however, and RBC business daily reported that this would be extended until Aug. 1.