Flu, which also goes by the name influenza, is quite a common disease these days, and it affects millions of people across the globe each year. According to the World Health Organization, the disease affects 5 million people severely and results in approximately 650,000 deaths each year. The symptoms of seasonal influenza include a sudden onset of fever, cough, muscle & joint pain, a runny nose, headache, severe malaise, and sore throat. While most people recover from these symptoms in about a week without needing any medical intervention, influenza can cause severe illness or death, particularly in people with other risk factors.

Seasonal influenza viruses are of four types, namely types A, B, C, and D, among which, influenza A and B viruses circulate and are responsible for the seasonal epidemics of the disease. Those suffering from uncomplicated flu infections are mostly provided palliative treatment (symptomatic relief); however, people who suffer from severe infections are treated using antivirals. Some of the major companies in the flu treatment market are Idenix Pharmaceuticals, Gilead Sciences, Pfizer Inc., GlaxoSmithKline PLC, and Bristol-Myers Squibb LLC. The demand for different flu treatment medicines has further been increasing on account of the novel coronavirus.

There is hardly anyone in the world right now who is not worried about COVID-19, and most of the tension lies around the fact that as of yet, there is no treatment available for the disease. Since the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, on December 1st 2019, coronavirus had affected over 2 million people across the globe, till April 16th, 2020. In addition to this, more than 135,000 people have died because of coronavirus. Since no treatment is available for the disease at present, hospitals are relying on existing medication, which includes medicines used for treating flu, to manage the COVID infection in patients.

A number of countries, including Japan, the U.S., and China, are working of developing drugs for treating coronavirus; however, these will need to go through animal testing, followed by human trials in various phases, before getting the regulatory approval for mass production. In this scenario, the available antivirals are being clinically tested on patients, who are affected by COVID-19. For example, Avigan, the Japanese flu drug containing favipiravir, was reportedly given to about 340 people in China, who had tested positive for coronavirus. The patients are claimed to have recovered without displaying any side-effects after the administration. On similar lines, patients in Shenzhen tested negative for the virus after just four days of being given favipiravir, and those who weren’t given the same treatment tested negative after 11 days.

Moreover, chest X-rays of 91% of the patients treated with favipiravir displayed improvements in lung function, while only 61% people who weren’t given the treatment showed betterment in their lung condition. Due to these results, trials are also being conducted in Wuhan, with the drug. Attributed to this preliminary success of favipiravir, various other influenza medicines are predicted to be utilized in COVID-19 trials in the upcoming months, which is further expected to result in the growth of the flu treatment market.