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Herbal treatment shows promise in reducing virus deaths, institute says

Source: Taipei Times by Tsai Si-pei and Liu Tzu-hsuan

A Chinese medicine-based herbal formula developed in Taiwan called Taiwan Chingguan Erhau (清冠二號), or NRICM102, could reduce the mortality rate of COVID-19 cases who experience severe symptoms by 50 percent, National Research Institute of Chinese Medicine (NRICM) director Su Yi-chang (蘇奕彰) said.

Su talked about the treatment on Sunday at the Taipei Traditional Chinese Medicine International Forum, saying that following the success of Taiwan Chingguan Yihau (清冠一號), or NRICM101, the institute is applying for patents and trademarks for the new formulation.

In 2020, permission was granted to export Taiwan Chingguan Yihau, and it has been sold in more than 50 countries with positive responses from overseas, Su said.

Taiwan Chingguan Yihau received emergency use authorization in May last year from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, which allowed it to be manufactured and used for clinical treatment in Taiwan.

Eight pharmaceutical companies have authorization to manufacture the formula.

Taiwan Chingguan Erhau is a modification of its predecessor, which includes indigowoad root, heartleaf houttuynia herb and scutellaria root, among others, Su said.

Ingredients “helpful in fighting viruses” and “regulating the immune system” remain in Taiwan Chingguan Erhau, while stronger substances that “help bolster health maintenance” were substituted for those with modest effects, he added.

Clinical trials of Taiwan Chingguan Yihau were conducted from May to August last year in 15 hospitals including the Tri-Service General Hospital, Taipei Hospital and Taoyuan General Hospital.

Results showed that the chance of people with COVID-19 developing severe symptoms was reduced by 80 percent if they were using the formula, Su said.

Over the same period, more than 100 cases with severe symptoms received Taiwan Chingguan Erhau in clinical trials, with results suggesting a 50 percent drop in mortality rate within 30 days, he said.

Asking pharmaceutical companies to target only COVID-19 cases with severe symptoms is impractical as the pandemic wanes, Su said, adding that the institute plans to test Taiwan Chingguan Erhau’s usefulness against other severe lung diseases.

The formula’s effectiveness in treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiac and pulmonary arrest, and pulmonary embolism are being assessed, he said.

Su also said that unlike Western medicines that target one disease, a Chinese medical formula can usually treat many diseases.

Taking Chinese medicine is unlikely to produce side effects or develop resistance the same way drugs or antibiotics do, he said.

Su said that the institute plans to approach companies that are interested in manufacturing Taiwan Chingguan Erhau and follow the procedures for launching new medical treatments in Taiwan.

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