Madagascar has distributed its organic remedy for the Coronavirus to several African countries after receiving orders for purchases, despite warnings from the World Health’s Organization over the umproven efficacy of the syrup.
This comes less than a month after President Andry Rajoelina launched the remedy at a news conference, drinking from a sleekly-branded bottle filled with an amber liquid which he said had already cured two people.
The tonic, based on the plant Artemisia annua which has anti-malarial properties, has not undergone any internationally recognised scientific testing. While Rajoelina extolled its virtues, the WHO cautioned it needs to be tested for efficacy and side effects.
Madagascar has been giving away thousands of bottles of “COVID-19 Organics”, developed by the state-run Malagasy Institute of Applied Research.
Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, and Guinea Bissau have all already received thousands of doses of COVID-19 Organics free of charge.
A legal adviser in the president’s office told Reuters on Wednesday that Madagascar would now begin selling the remedy, which domestically can be bought for around 40 U.S. cents per bottle.
“This remedy can be put on the market,” Marie Michelle Sahondrarimalala, director of Legal Studies at the Presidency, told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday. “Madagascar has already received orders from state authorities in other countries, but also from private individuals.”
WHO Africa head Matshidiso Moeti said she was concerned people who drank the product might feel they were immune to COVID-19 and engage in risky behaviour.
The African Union (AU) said on Monday that it was trying to get Madagascar’s technical data on the remedy, and would pass that to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention for evaluation.
“This review will be based on global technical and ethical norms to garner the necessary scientific evidence,” the AU said.
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