By Amos Fofung
After weeks of rebuttal and warning on the “effects” of using untested drugs, the African Union, AU, and the continent’s Center for Disease Control, CDC has made know it readiness to carryout scientific testing on the effectiveness of Madagascar’s herbal tonic, Covid-Organics, which the Island nation has been using to treat coronavirus patients.
Madagascar had long snubbed the World Health Organization and foreign nations who warned against administering Covid-Organics stating that its efficacy is unproven. The AU and other regional organisations had also distant itself from Madagascar’s usage of the tonic made from Artemisia annua, (Sweet wormwood) a plant often used to treat malaria.
On Wednesday, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Kwesi Quartey tweeted Madagascar’s health ministry “has agreed to collaborate with the African Union and Africa Centre for Disease Control to explore further, the remedy they have discovered for the treatment of COVID-19 to benefit the continent at large”.
The AU said on Monday that it was trying to get Madagascar’s technical data on the remedy, and would pass that to the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention for evaluation.
Last month, President Andry Rajoelina made public the remedy at a news conference. Over the past weeks, the remedy continues to gain momentum across the continent and has already been ordered by Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and Congo-Brazzaville.
Reports indicate that it will soon be distributed to 14 other countries in Africa.
Developed by the state-run Malagasy Institute of Applied Research, 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.
“We are concerned that touting this product as a preventive measure might then make people feel safe,” she said.
In a televised interview this week on France 24, Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina defended his decision to use the herbal drink insisting that the world was particularly campaigning against it because its developed by an African country.
Brandishing figures of coronavirus infection in his country, President Andry reiterating that his country was a sovereign nation and no organization nor government will stop them from developing the effective Covid-Organics.
At the time this report was published, Madagascar had a total of 225 confirmed coronavirus cases, 98 recoveries, and no deaths – figures which Malagasy state officials say is thanks to the curing capabilities of Covid-Organics.