W.H.O. Envoy Supports Madagascar’s Debut of Unproven Herbal Coronavirus Treatment

Madagascar's President Andry Rajoelina drinks a sample of the "Covid Organics" or CVO remedy at a launch ceremony in Antananarivo on April 20, 2020. "Covid Organics" or CVO is a remedy produced by the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research (IMRA) created from the Artemisia plant and supposedly help to prevent …
RIJASOLO/AFP via Getty Images

Madagascar’s president this weekend launched a capsule version of an herbal tea he touts as a treatment for the Chinese coronavirus. The country’s World Health Organization (W.H.O.) representative approvingly attended the launch ceremony.

“Today [Friday, October 2], we present to the entire world capsules containing the extracts of artemisia and ravintsara, a local Malagasy plant, whose virtues are recognized globally,” Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina said at the launch, as quoted by Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Local pharmaceutical company Pharmagalasy hosted the ceremony at its plant outside Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo.

“Those who struggle to ingest the infusion can now take this CVO+ [brand name] capsule that will be sold across the world,” he added.

Madagascar’s W.H.O. representative, Charlotte Faty Ndiaye, congratulated the president at the launch “for leading the fight against this global pandemic,” according to AFP.

The U.N. health body announced on September 19 that it had endorsed a set protocol for phase three clinical trials of coronavirus herbal medicine. Phase three clinical trials typically test the safety and efficacy of a drug on a larger group of subjects.

“If a traditional medicine product is found to be safe, efficacious, and quality-assured, WHO will recommend for a fast-tracked, large-scale local manufacturing,” Prosper Tumusiime, the Director of Universal Health Coverage and Life Course Cluster at W.H.O. Regional Office for Africa, explained.

Tumusiime noted that “through the African Vaccine Regulatory Forum, there is now a benchmark upon which clinical trials of medicines and vaccines in the region can be assessed and approved in fewer than 60 days.”

Madagascar President Rajoelina launched the herbal tea “Covid-Organics” in April, calling it a “prevention and remedy” for the Chinese coronavirus. At the time of its launch, the tea had been tested on just 20 people over a period of three weeks.

“The scientific evidence that this is effective has not been proved. It’s likely that it could actually harm the health of the population, particularly that of children,” Marcel Razanamparany, the president of Madagascar’s Academy of Medicine, said at the time.

No scientific study has so far proven the herbal remedy’s effectiveness in treating coronavirus. Despite this, it is “offered as a supplement to conventional drugs” in Madagascar, AFP reported on Sunday.

“The drink, which has also been sent to dozens of African countries, is produced by the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research [in Madagascar] from the artemisia plant – the source of an ingredient used in a malaria treatment – and other Malagasy plants,” according to the BBC.

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