SCIO briefing on TCM's important role and a list of effective drugs in COVID-19 prevention and control

The State Council Information Office held a press conference on March 23 in Wuhan, Hubei province, to introduce the important role of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and a list of effective drugs in COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control. March 26, 2020

Xinhua News Agency:

According to current research, which traditional Chinese medicines are most effective for treating COVID-19 and how did you evaluate their efficacy? Thank you.

Zhang Boli:

Thank you for your question. Don't panic if you have good medicine in your hand. Every time after a major epidemic, good medicines will emerge. There's a saying that goes, "good medicine comes from a terrible plague." There is no specific drug or vaccine to treat COVID-19, so just like our fellow practitioners of Western medicine, we have focused on finding effective existing drugs. Meanwhile, we have developed several new drugs and prescriptions, which Ms. Yu just mentioned: "three drugs and three prescriptions." Since Professor Qiu has made a very good introduction of Xuebijing injection, I would like to mainly introduce the Jinhua Qinggan Granule and the Lianhua Qingwen Capsule.

The Jinhua Qinggan Granule was developed during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, and was already available on the market. The drug itself is the combination of two drugs: one is Maxing Shigan Decoction from Shanghan Lun (the Treatise on Cold Pathogenic Diseases), and the other is Yinqiao Powder from Wenbing Tiaobian (the Detailed Analysis of Epidemic Warm Diseases). By now, Maxing Shigan Decoction has been used for 1800 years, while Wenbing Tiaobian has a history of 300 years. Therefore, both are effective prescriptions which stand the test of time. The drug's main effects are dispelling wind, ventilating the lungs, clearing heat and removing toxicity. During the course of its development, Wang Chen, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, performed a RCT (randomized control trial) study, and published a paper in the American journal Annals of Internal Medicine to demonstrate that the drug is as effective as Tamiflu in treating H1N1 influenza, but has less adverse reactions and a lower price.

We have also done a 102-case clinical RCT study at the frontline in Wuhan. The results showed that in treating mild and moderate patients of COVID-19, patients who took the Jinhua Qinggan Granule, compared to the control group, reduced their rate of turning more severe by two thirds, and decreased their fever 1.5 days faster. At the same time, white blood cell, neutrophil and lymphocyte counts reflecting immune function were significantly improved. The results proved that the Jinhua Qinggan Granule dose have an effect, especially in reducing the rate of patients turning severe and improving immunological indicators.

Beijing You An Hospital has conducted clinical observations on this medicine given to over 80 patients, and found it shortened the time taken to obtain a negative nucleic acid test result by 2.5 days. The absorption of pneumonia exudate started to show improvement two or three days earlier than those in the control group, with leukocytes and lymphocytes increasing significantly. Therefore, we consider this an effective medicine to treat the COVID-19, and is widely used in the clinic. 

Prescribed by academician Wu Yiling during the fight against SARS, Lianhua Qingwen medicine can detoxify the lungs and clear dampness and heat. It has shown curative effects on mild and common COVID-19 patients. China has donated 100,000 boxes of Lianhua Qingwen to Italy, and I also heard that Italy would like another 100,000 boxes. 

A total of 284 COVID-19 patients from 23 hospitals in nine provinces and municipalities were involved in a random controlled trial (RCT) guided by academician Zhong Nanshan, academician Li Lanjuan and myself. Research showed that, compared with the control group, the symptom disappearance rate of the treatment group was higher and the duration of symptoms was shorter. About 83.8 percent of the patients in the treatment group saw an improvement in their lung scan images, and 78.9 percent recovered, while the figures for the control group were respectively 64.1 percent and 66.2 percent. As for the rate of mildly-ill patients entering a more severe infection was 50 percent lower for the treatment group than the control group.

In-vitro studies also showed that Lianhua Qingwen has an inhibitory impact on the novel coronavirus outside the body. So, how to distinguish it from Jinhua Qinggan in the clinic? Well, those with low-grade fever and a severe headache could take Jinhua Qinggan, while those with high-grade fever and dry stool could be given Lianhua Qingwen. Thank you.

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