Last month, Madagascar introduced a herbal drink, called COVID-Organics, which it claimed can cure and prevent Coronavirus.
At the launch ceremony, Madagascar’s President, Andry Rajoelina, a former DJ, who in 2009 at the age of 34 became Africa’s youngest national leader, said that the drink can cure Coronavirus patients in just 7 days.
Since then, Madagascar’s army has been going door to door across the country to distribute the herbal drink.
Madagascar, the country of 27.6 million, has so far reported just 405 COVID-19 cases and 2 deaths while 131 people have recovered thanks to the herbal drink, as per President Rajoelina.
Many African nations including Tanzania, Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, and Senegal have either imported or expressed intentions to import the herbal drink from Madagascar.
President of Guinea-Bissau, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, personally received the shipment of the herbal drink from Madagascar.
Belgian agronomist, Pierre Van Damme, is marketing the herbal drink in Senegal under the label of Le Lion Vert (The Green Lion). Shopkeepers in Dakar are consistently running out of stock against ever-increasing demand of the herbal drink.
Madagascar, one of the world’s poorest countries, is now planning to export its COVID-19 cure to Europe, aiming to generate significant amounts of revenue.
European states, on the other hand, have expressed apprehensions over the efficacy of the herbal drink to cure and prevent COVID-19 without any clinical trials.
While commenting on the attitude of European countries, President Rajoelina said:
If it was a European country that had actually discovered this remedy, would there be so much doubt? I don’t think so.
What exactly is Madagascar’s herbal drink?
Artemisia, a plant with proven efficacy against malaria, is the main component of the herbal drink along with other indigenous ingredients. The plant was first imported in Madagascar in the 1970s from China to treat malaria.
Since last month, President Rajoelina has been touting Artemisia as the new “green gold” for Madagascar.
Life will change for all Madagascans. Rice fetches Madagascar $350 for every ton while Artemisia-based herbal drink can bring in nearly as much as $3,000 for every ton.
Is the herbal drink safe?
Well, the World Health Organization (WHO) has advised people against using untested cures for COVID-19.
An official statement from the WHO reads:
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.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also warned people against using unproven remedies.
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.
Meanwhile, the African Union has started discussions with Madagascar to obtain technical data regarding the safety and efficacy of COVID-Organics.