Covid-organics: Disputes around Madagascar’s covid-19 medicine

Madagascar says it has found a cure – Covid-Organics – for the deadly lung infection: covid-19, but WHO said there is “no evidence” at this time that the medicine can “prevent or cure” the coronavirus.

Malagasy President Andry Rajoelina launched a cure for coronavirus on Monday, April 20. He drank this covid-19 medicine made from local medicinal plants and promised that it would be available to counter the coronavirus on the big island. The cure has a branded name: Covid-Organics (CVO)

Despite a launch with great fanfare, the World Health Organization (WHO) claims that there is no scientific evidence that Madagascar’s remedy for Covid-19 is effective.

The country’s national medical academy (ANAMEM) has also questioned the effectiveness of the remedy designed by the Madagascan Institute for Applied Research (IMRA). The ANAMEM specifies that the medication – Covid-Organics – could potentially harm the health of the people who consume them because its “scientific evidence had not been established”.

It is produced from the artemisia plant – the source of a molecule used in the treatment of malaria – and other Malagasy plants. And marketed in bottles and herbal teas after being tested on fewer than 20 people for three weeks, President Lova Hasinirina Ranoromaro’s chief of staff told the BBC.

“Tests have been carried out – this treatment has now cured two people,” Rajoelina said on Monday at the launch of Covid-Organics. “This herbal tea works in seven days,” said Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina, who also urged people to use it as a preventive measure.

Covid-organics: Disputes around Madagascar’s covid-19 medicine

“Schoolchildren should drink it … little by little throughout the day,” he told diplomats, and other dignitaries gathered for the launch.

Malagasy President Andry Rajoelina said on his Twitter account that he had received congratulations from his DRC counterpart Félix Tshisekedi “for the improved traditional remedy Covid-Organics”.

Dr. Charles Andrianjara, Director General of IMRA, said that Covid-Organics should be used as a preventative. He was more cautious about its use as a remedy, however, but noted that clinical observations had shown “a trend towards its effectiveness as a curative remedy”, according to the AFP news agency, which quotes it.

The island has so far recorded 121 cases of coronavirus and no deaths.

No precipitation

In response to the launch of Covid-Organics, the WHO, the World Health Organization said, in a press release, that there is currently “no evidence” that the remedy Malagasy can “prevent or cure” the coronavirus, according to BBC. The organization reiterated the words of its leader, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, that there was “no shortcut” to find an effective way to fight the coronavirus. International trials are underway to find an effective treatment, the WHO added.

Ms. Ranoromaro chief of staff to President Malgache said that President Rajoelina was aware that WHO had to respect its protocols but clarified that this was a question of sovereignty. “He has duties to the Malagasy people,” she said.

Professor Brian Klaas, a specialist in Madagascar at the University College of London, estimated that the position of Mr. Rajoelina could cause more harm than good to the citizens of Madagascar. “It’s dangerous for two reasons – the first is that some people will take it [Covid-Organics] when they shouldn’t,” he told BBC Newsday.

“And second, it will give people a false sense of security, so they will end up doing things they would not have done otherwise and will put themselves and others at greater risk.” If the virus begins to spread, it could be “devastating” because the country’s health system is weak, with only six respirators for a population of 27 million people, he said.

“This is also one of the reasons why the island is one of the only places on the planet where epidemics of bubonic plague are regularly observed, which can be easily cured with the right medicine.”

In March, the United States-based National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health warned of alleged remedies for coronavirus, including herbal medicines and teas – saying the best way to prevent infection was to avoid exposure to the virus.

BBC Africa edition
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