Madagascar is selling its self-proclaimed COVID-19 treatment despite warnings from the World Health Organization (WHO) that the efficacy of the plant-based remedy is not proven. Several African countries have already put in orders for the tonic COVID-19 Organics.
Last month president Andry Rajoelina launched the remedy at a news conference. He said the amber liquid had already cured two people.
On Friday, a delegation from Tanzania arrived to collect their bottles with foreign minister Palamagamba Kabudi saying Madagascar had made Africans proud: “Madagascar is contributing a solution to a global problem. We have always been used that it is Europe and Western Europe and other countries which do contribute to global problems.”
Heads of other African countries said they were also placing orders.
COVID-19 Organics is based on the plant Artemisia annua, which has anti-malarial properties. Isolated compounds extracted from Artemisia are effective in malaria drugs, the World Health Organisation has noted, but the plant itself cannot treat malaria.
Madagascar has been giving away thousands of bottles of COVID-19 Organics, which was developed by the state-run Malagasy Institute of Applied Research (IMRA).
Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, and Guinea Bissau have all already received thousands of doses free of charge. And it can be bought domestically for around 40 US cents per bottle.
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 behavior. The WHO has said COVID-19 Organics needs to be tested for its efficacy and any side effects.
The African Union said 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 (Africa CDC) for evaluation.
By Thursday (May 7), Madagascar had a total of 225 confirmed coronavirus cases, 98 recoveries, and no deaths.