The race to find a cure for the novel coronavirus is getting major assistance in Japan from Fujifilm, the global photography and imaging company based in Tokyo. A new report from Wired states that a team of Fujifilm employees was tasked by Japan's heh minister, Katsunobu Kato, to find an antiviral pill that could be used to help fight COVID-19 symptoms. The Fujifilm team turned to Favipiravir, a version of an anti-influenza drug called Avigan the Fujifilm subsidiary Toyama Chemical developed Avigan decades ago. According to Wired, Favipiravir was previously used to cut the Ebola rate in Guinea from 30 percent to 15 percent.
Beginning March 28, Japan’s prime minster Shinzo Abe “designated Avigan as Japan's standard treatment for COVID-19.” According to Wired’s report, “At a hospital in Shenzhen, COVID-19 patients treated with Favipiravir tested negative for the virus after a median of four days, rather than the 11 days it took for members of the study's control group to test negative; in another study carried out in Wuhan, patients taking the drug allegedly recovered from fever nearly two days earlier than those who did not take the medication.”
Japan is now relying on Favipiravir to help fight COVID-19, as are countries such as Turkey. The antiviral pill works “by inhibiting the replication of viral genes within infected cells, thereby mitigating the virus' ability to spread from one cell to another.” The Fujifilm team is in the middle of a clinical trial using the antiviral pill that will conclude in June.
The hope is that the drug will prevent COVID-19 patients with low viral loads from getting any sicker. Japan’s prime minster announced last weekend the country will “start to boost production and proceed with clinical research in cooperation with those countries that wish to join us.”
Unlike the majority of the world, Japan hasn’t seen an explosion in COVID-19 cases and deaths. As of April 3, there have been 2,617 reported cases of the disease in the country and only 61 deaths. Fujimfilm team members told Wired that Indonesia is one of several counties contacting them and expressing interest in using Favipiravir to fight COVID-19, but the company “declined to name them [all the countries] and won't say how much of the drug they will be exporting.”
Head over to Wired’s website to read more about Fujifilm’s fight to cure coronavirus.
Police in Crowley, Louisiana have issued an apology for using the siren heard in “The Purge” to signal the 9pm local time curfew that has been put into effect in the city because of the coronavirus outbreak via NME. The curfew prohibits citizens from leaving their homes between the local hours of 9pm and 6am. The police department said the curfew went into place because the city is located in the state’s Acadia Parish, which has “received the worst rating for the rapid spread of the virus. It has been put into place in order to try and slow the spread.” Police are giving citations to people who violate the curfew. People traveling to or from work must have documentation from their employer.
An alarm used by police at the beginning of the month was the same alarm heard in “The Purge,” James DeMonaco’s 2013 horror thriller about a fictional America where for one night it becomes legal to commit any crimes, including murder, for a 12-hour period. The alarm in “The Purge” is heard to signal that the killing and crime sprees can begin. The first “Purge” film starred Ethan Hawke and launched a franchise that includes three follow-up movies and a series on USA Network.
Crowley Police chief Jimmy Broussard said in a statement to the local ABC news affiliate KATC that he was unaware the signal being used for the coronavirus curfew was the same signal heard in “The Purge.” The chief assured citizens that the “Purge” siren would not be used again. The siren caused enough of a stir that an additional statement was released by Acadia Parish sheriff K.P. Gibson.
“Last night a ‘Purge Siren’ was utilized by the Crowley Police Department as part of their starting curfew,” the statement said. “We have received numerous complaints with the belief that our agency was involved in this process. We were not involved in the use of the ‘Purge Siren’ and will not utilize any type of siren for this purpose. Calls regarding this matter should be directed to the Crowley Police and Chief Broussard and not the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office.”
Universal Pictures is scheduled to release the next “Purge” movie in theaters this summer, but the film is likely to be delayed because of the coronavirus. The studio was not involved in the Crowley police department’s use of “The Purge” siren.