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Abstract Brief summary In early symptomatic COVID-19 treatment, high dose oral favipiravir did not accelerate viral clearance. Background Favipiravir, an anti-influenza drug, has in vitro antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2. Clinical trial evidence to date is inconclusive. Favipiravir has been recommended for the treatment of COVID-19 in some countries. Methods In a multicentre open-label, randomised, controlled, adaptive platform trial, low-risk adult patients with early symptomatic COVID-19 were randomised to one of ten treatment arms including high dose oral favipiravir (3.6g on day 0 followed by 1.6g daily to complete 7 days treatment) or no study drug. The primary outcome was the rate of viral clearance (derived under a linear mixed-effects model from the daily log10 viral densities in standardised duplicate oropharyngeal swab eluates taken daily over 8 days [18 swabs per patient]), assessed in a modified intention-to-treat population (mITT). The safety population included all patients who received at least one dose of the allocated intervention. This ongoing adaptive platform trial was registered at (NCT05041907) on 13/09/2021. Results In the final analysis, the mITT population contained data from 114 patients randomised to favipiravir and 126 patients randomised concurrently to no study drug. Under the linear mixed-effects model fitted to all oropharyngeal viral density estimates in the first 8 days from randomisation (4,318 swabs), there was no difference in the rate of viral clearance between patients given favipiravir and patients receiving no study drug; a -1% (95% credible interval: -14 to 14%) difference. High dose favipiravir was well-tolerated. Interpretation Favipiravir does not accelerate viral clearance in early symptomatic COVID-19. The viral clearance rate estimated from quantitative measurements of oropharyngeal eluate viral densities assesses the antiviral efficacy of drugs in vivo with comparatively few studied patients.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Infectious Diseases


Springer Science and Business Media LLC

Publication Date