Madagascar’s President launches locally-made Covid-19 cure for his Countrymen
The President of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina, on April 20 appeared to promote an unproven treatment for COVID-19.
The remedy, named COVID-ORGANICS, is effective against the virus, Rajoelina said, speaking in Malagasy at the launch of the product in the capital Antananarivo. The product strengthens the body’s immune system, he added.
Rajoelina shared images of the product on his social media page: bottles of a dark amber liquid with the label COVID-ORGANICS and Tisane Bio. The word tisane refers to herbal teas.
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Covid-Organics, remède traditionnel amélioré à base d'artemisia & de plantes endémiques, curatif & préventif contre le #Covid19, est lancé ! Le Covid-Organics sera distribué gratuitement à nos compatriotes les plus vulnérables et vendu à très bas prix aux autres. Tous les bénéfices seront reversés à l’IMRA pour financer la recherche scientifique. Croyons en notre capacité à faire face et à aller de l'avant.🇲🇬✌🏽 Nampahafantarina androany ny Covid-Organics, tambavy azo avy amin'ireo zavamaniry fampiasa amin'ny fitsaboana nentim-paharazana sy Artemisia. Mitsabo sy misoroka ny Covid19. Hozaraina maimaimpoana eny anivon'ny fokontany ny tambavy Covid Organics. Satria adidin'ny fitondrana ny miaro ny mponina rehetra. Hisy ihany koa ireo amidy amin'ny toeram-pivarotana sasantsany amin'ny vidiny mirary ary ny tombom-barotra rehetra dia ho atolotra ny IMRA hamatsiana ny fikarohana. Ry vahoaka Malagasy, aoka isika hampanjaka ny fitiavan-tanindrazana ao ampontsika sy tsy hametra ny zavatra azontsika atao fa hanam-pinoana ka hiaraka hiatrika ny ho avy.
The principal ingredient in the concoction is derived from Artemisia annua or sweet wormwood, a green leafy plant that emits a striking odor. Dried leaves from the plant are considered to have medicinal properties in Madagascar. But there is no evidence to show it actually works against COVID-19, a respiratory disease that has claimed more than 165,000 lives and infected almost 2.5 million people across the world.
Herbal remedies made from A. annua leaves are often touted as a cure for malaria. But its use against malaria is controversial.
“WHO does not recommend the use of A. annua plant material, in any form, including tea, for the treatment or the prevention of malaria,” a 2012 position paper from the World Health Organization said.
“There is as far as I know no evidence that the artemisinins can treat COVID-19,” Arjen M. Dondorp, a professor of tropical medicine at the University of Oxford told a local publication in an email. “There are anecdotal reports that artesunate was tried in China when the outbreak was rampant there, and that the drug had no clear clinical benefit. As far as I know, no official clinical trials with artesunate to evaluate whether artemisinins are beneficial in COVID-19 have been registered.”
While launching the medicines online, he posted,
‘The Covid-Organics will be distributed free of charge to our most vulnerable compatriots and sold at very low prices to others. All profits will be donated to IMRA to finance scientific research. Let us believe in our ability to cope and move forward.’
The product also bears the stamp of the Malagasy Institute for Applied Research (IMRA), where the purported cure was developed.
Madagascar has a low number of confirmed COVID-19 cases — just 121 out of a population of 26 million — and no reported deaths as of April 20.
The country declared a national emergency after the first confirmed cases emerged on March 20, and placed the major cities of Antananarivo, Fianarantsoa and Toamasina under lockdown.
But on April 20 some restrictions were eased in these cities.