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21.04.2020 Madagascar

Madagascar president launches coronavirus 'remedy'

By AFP
Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina gave the official launch to a herbal tea claimed to prevent and cure coronavirus.  By RIJASOLO (AFP)
LISTEN APR 21, 2020
Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina gave the official launch to a herbal tea claimed to prevent and cure coronavirus. By RIJASOLO (AFP)

The president of Madagascar Andry Rajoelina has officially launched a local herbal remedy claimed to prevent and cure the novel coronavirus.

"Tests have been carried out -- two people have now been cured by this treatment," Rajoelina told ministers, diplomats and journalists at the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research (IMRA), which developed the beverage.

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

Downing a dose, he said: "I will be the first to drink this today, in front of you, to show you that this product cures and does not kill."

The drink, which has been called Covid-Organics, is derived from artemisia -- a plant with proven efficacy in malaria treatment -- and other indigenous herbs, according to the IMRA.

But its safety and effectiveness have not been assessed internationally, nor has any data from trials been published in peer-reviewed studies. Mainstream scientists have warned of the potential risk from untested herbal brews.

Rajoelina brushed aside any such reservations and said the concoction would be offered to schoolchildren, as it was his duty was to "protect the Malagasy people".

Claims for the new drink have not been assessed internationally, nor have the results of any trials been published in peer-reviewed journals -- the mainstream path for checking whether a medicine is safe and effective.  By RIJASOLO (AFP) Claims for the new drink have not been assessed internationally, nor have the results of any trials been published in peer-reviewed journals -- the mainstream path for checking whether a medicine is safe and effective. By RIJASOLO (AFP)

"Covid-Organics will be used as prophylaxis, that is for prevention, but clinical observations have shown a trend towards its effectiveness in curative treatment," said Dr. Charles Andrianjara, IMRA's director general.

The large Indian Ocean island has so far detected 121 cases and no fatality.

The pandemic has triggered a rush for herbal formulas, lemons and ginger in the belief that they can protect against the virus.

The World Health Organization (WHO), which has people to be vigilant about claimed cures for COVID-19, did not attend the event.

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

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