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Japanese and South Korean COVID treatments belatedly arrive

Starting from behind, companies go up against global competition and new variants

A trial run of oral COVID-19 treatment pills at a drugstore in Incheon, South Korea, on Jan. 12, two days before the government began allowing the medication, starting with patients who have a weak immune system or are over the age of 65.    © EPA/Jiji

TOKYO -- Domestic COVID drugs are arriving in Japan and South Korea, providing more treatment options for doctors fighting against the omicron wave of COVID cases.

On Jan. 21, Japan approved Chugai Pharmaceutical's Actemra arthritis drug for treatment of severe COVID symptoms. Actemra helps reduce inflammation in COVID patients by blocking interleukin-6, a protein that activates the immune system. The Japanese drug has already been approved as a COVID treatment in the U.S. and Europe.

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