(Reuters) – Johnson & Johnson said on Monday there is no evidence its HIV drug, Prezista, had any effect against the coronavirus, in response to reports that the drug could inhibit the virus.

The company said it was aware that HIV treatments are being considered as options to treat patients diagnosed with COVID-19, a disease caused by the coronavirus.

Johnson & Johnson said usage of HIV treatments were based on unpublished clinical data that were used on patients infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome – a virus similar to the pandemic. (https://bit.ly/2xIovfM)

Last month, China’s Changjiang Daily newspaper reported that a team of researchers led by Zhejiang University professor Li Lanjuan had found that drugs abidol and darunavir – another name for Prezista – can inhibit the virus in vitro cell experiments.

In vitro experiments refers to tests done within cells.

There are no published studies that evaluate Prezista as a treatment for the coronavirus, J&J said, adding that it is screening anti-viral drugs including darunavir to determine the in vitro effect against the virus.

(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)