China is administering its centuries-old traditional medicine on patients affected by the coronavirus (now named Covid-19), Bloomberg reports quoting a top Chinese health official.
In a desperate attempt to cure its citizens, they have also turned to HIV drugs.
Although there is no evidence from clinical trials, China's National Health Commission said the HIV drug lopinavir/ritonavir can be used to treat coronavirus patients, without specifying how they might help, reports Reuters.
According to Bloomberg, treatment in Wuhan hospitals combine Traditional Chinese Medicine, popularly known as TCM, and western medicines.
Wang Hesheng, the new health commission head in Hubei, the province at the centre of the virus outbreak, said TCM was applied on more than half of the confirmed coronavirus cases in Hubei.
"Our efforts have shown some good result," Wang said at a press conference on Saturday, without elaborating further.
Top TCM experts have been sent to Hubei for "research and treatment," he added.
A claim by Chinese scientists that a liquid made with honeysuckle and flowering plants could help fight the deadly coronavirus has sparked mass purchase of the traditional medicine "Shuang Huang Lian," but doubts quickly emerged, reports The Japan Times.
This rush came after Chinese state media reported on January 31 that the esteemed Chinese Academy of Sciences had found the concoction that "can inhibit" the virus.
A similar claim has also been made and viewed hundreds of millions of times in multiple posts on Weibo, WeChat and Facebook.
AFP Fact Check has already termed the claim as "misleading."
"[Shuang Huang Lian] are very commonly used Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbs which are said to have 'clearing heat' effect," Dr So Tsz-him, an assistant professor of oncology and registered Chinese medicine practitioner at the University of Hong Kong, told AFP.
"They are most commonly used to treat various infections according to TCM theory, including respiratory tract infections, high fever, skin abscess etc.," he added.
Chinese National Health Commission expert committee member Zhang Boli, on a press conference on February 4, said pharmacological experiments had found Shuang Huang Lian helpful in "controlling" the new virus, but since no clinical study had been carried out, it remained unclear whether the medicine could prevent or cure the condition.
He also advised against the use of Shuang Huang Lian by people who are not sick, citing side effects such as diarrhoea.
The World Health Organisation, in a Facebook post published on January 29, said that there is still no specific medicine recommended to treat the virus. It also announced on February 12 that the first vaccine for coronavirus may be available within 18 months from now.
As of Saturday night, at least 1,523 deaths and 66,492 cases of coronavirus have been reported in Mainland China, mostly in central Hubei province.
Outside mainland China, there have been about 500 cases in some two dozen countries and territories, with four deaths in Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines and France.