Madagascar president backs unproven herbal treatment for coronavirus


Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina gave the official launch of an herbal tea supposed to prevent and cure the coronavirus./AFP

Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina has officially launched a local herbal remedy that he says can prevent and cure the new coronavirus.

Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina gave the official launch of an herbal tea supposed to prevent and cure the coronavirus./AFP

“Tests have been carried out, two people have now been cured by this treatment,” Rajoelina told ministers, diplomats and journalists from the Madagascan Institute for Applied Research (IMRA), which developed the drink.

“This herbal tea gives results in seven days,” he said.

As he swallowed a dose, he said, “I’ll be the first to drink this today, in front of you, to show you that this product is healing and not killing.”

The drink, called COVID-Organics, is derived from mugwort, a plant with proven effectiveness in treating malaria and other native herbs, according to IMRA.

But its safety and effectiveness have not been evaluated internationally, and no test data has been published in peer-reviewed studies. Mainstream scientists have warned of the potential risk of untested herbal beverages.

The main ingredient of the drink is derived from Artemisia annua or sweet wormwood. The dried leaves of the plant are believed to have medicinal properties in Madagascar. But there is no evidence that it actually works against COVID-19, a respiratory disease that has killed more than 165,000 and infected nearly 2.5 million people worldwide.

Herbal remedies made from A. annua the leaves are often touted as a remedy for malaria. But its use against malaria is controversial. The World Health Organization has criticized the use of A. annua in a 2012 report saying she could not recommend the use of A. annua in any form, including tea, for the treatment or prevention of malaria ”.

Rajoelina’s government dismissed all these reservations and said the concoction would be offered to schoolchildren, as it was their duty to “protect the Malagasy people”.

“Covid-Organics will be used as a prophylaxis, that is, for prevention, but clinical observations have shown a trend towards its effectiveness in curative treatment,” said Dr Charles Andrianjara, Director General of IMRA .

The president also said that the product will be made available to the poor free of charge.

The large island in the Indian Ocean has so far detected 121 cases and no deaths.

The pandemic has sparked a rush for herbal formulas, lemons and ginger, convinced they can protect against the virus.

The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), referring to claims of herbal or tea remedies, state: “There is no scientific evidence that any of these alternative remedies can prevent or cure the disease. disease caused by COVID-19. In fact, some of them may not be safe to consume.


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