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South Africa to assist Madagascar scientifically to test herbal “cure” for Covid-19

 “We received a call from the government of Madagascar, who asked for help with scientific research. Our scientists would be able to assist with this research. We will only get involved in a scientific analysis of the herb. We are not at that point yet.” Said Minister of Health Dr. Zweli Mkhize.

South African researchers are keen to get their hands on the Malagasy artemisia tonic even though questions remain about the contents of the alleged treatment.

“I would love to know what’s in it, a list of ingredients so I can test it. At this moment in time I don’t know what that remedy contains, that is why I’m quite keen to help our minister to do the analysis because that’s the first thing I will do,” Said Frank Van der Kooy, an expert in pharmaceutical sciences at North-West University in South Africa.

The Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina in a long address said, “This plant can treat lots of diseases, and if we don’t act quickly other researchers will overtake us.” He added, “Madagascar is building a factory to scale production, the cure will undergo clinical trials and that aside the drinks, injection options will be pursued, over half-dozen countries have expressed interest in it.”

The herbal remedy is produced from artemisia, a plant with proven efficacy against malaria and other indigenous herbs, according to the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research, that developed the beverage.

Following Rajoena’s claims there has been a lot of criticism, the World Health Organisation (WHO) advised people against using untested remedies to fight COVID-19.

“Africans deserve to use medicines tested to the same standards as people in the rest of the world, even if therapies are derived from traditional practice and natural, establishing their efficacy and safety through rigorous clinical trials is critical” Said World Health Organisation in a statement.

Madagascar’s National Academy of Medicine has also warned against the tonic, and the President of Madagascar has not taken this criticism well. He argues that people don’t believe in the tonic because it comes from Africa, and cannot accept a that country like Madagascar has discovered formula to save the world 

Meanwhile, the African Union (AU) says it is in discussion with Madagascar with a view to obtain technical data regarding the safety and efficiency of the herbal remedy.

There is currently no proof that the tonic works as a cure for COVID-19 patients, the tonic has been tested to fewer than 20 patients over three weeks and the data from the study has not been made available.

As South Africa seeks to provide assistance scientifically for clinical trials to Madagascar’s Government on testing the tonic to fight COVID-19 it has recorded 11350 positive cases, 4357 recoveries, 206 deaths, 698 new cases and have conducted 369697 tests.

By Sakhe Dolonga

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