Madagascan President says herbal drink has cured two people of COVID-19, but country’s scientists are doubtful

I

As their high school reopened after a month’s closure due to the coronavirus, students in Madagascar’s capital city were given face masks and a small bottle of a herbal extract they were told to drink to protect them from COVID-19.

Though the bottle does not list ingredients, President Andry Rajoelina said it contains artemisia, which is found in some malaria drugs

Mr Rajoelina says the drinkhas cured two people of COVID-19 and eased symptoms in others

Medical experts are critical of the drink as it has not been scientifically tested

Many grimacing at its bitter taste, the students swallowed the drink and entered school to resume classes, where they were now seated one to a desk instead of two, for safer distance.

Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina promoted the drink, Covid Organics, on national television saying it will “change the course of history”.

He claimed it had cured two cases of COVID-19 in Madagascar and alleviated symptoms in others.

“What we want to do today is to popularise this drink to protect our population,” Mr Rajoelina said, before drinking a bottle of the tea.

The herbal drink has not been scientifically tested and there’s no proof it works against COVID-19, but the President is enthusiastically promoting it.

The drink is being distributed for free in some schools that are reopening, and in poor neighbourhoods, while elsewhere it is being sold for about 50 cents for a 310 gram bottle.

The concoction was developed by the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research, a private organisation that for more than 30 years has researched the uses of Madagascar’s traditional medicines.

The label on the bottle does not list the ingredients but the President said it is made from artemisia, a bitterroot that is used in some malaria drugs.

Medical experts unhappy with claim

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak

Medical experts are critical of the drink, pointing out that no scientific tests have been done on it.

“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,” said the president of Madagascar’s Academy of Medicine, Marcel Razanamparany, in a statement.

am text block. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.