Days after the US President Donald Trump suggested using disinfectant to combat the COVID-19 or coronavirus pandemic, Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina has recommended an organic concoction to cure the infected patients.
His claim that the concoction named Covid Organics (CVO) – a form of herbal tea – is curing COVID-19 patients has divided public opinion in the island nation, some 400 kilometers (248 miles) off the coast of East Africa.
Taking to Twitter, Rajoelina asked people to believe in the country’s ability. He said all profits accrued through the sale of concoction will be diverted to the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research (MIAR).
"All trials and tests have been conducted and its effectiveness has been provided in reducing and elimination of symptoms from COVID-19 patients in Madagascar," Africanews a multilingual news media service quoted the president as saying.
But the World Health Organization (WHO) in a statement has warned against any self-medication and said that it has not recommended any medicine as a cure for the COVID-19.
Notwithstanding, the WHO warning, a large number of Malagasy people are flocking to the free distribution points while others are still expressing skepticism. President has directed that drink will be distributed free of charge to the most vulnerable and sold at very low prices to others.
Over the past week, even soldiers are going door to door distributing the CVO.
“I prefer to consume this herbal tea to stay healthy. Also, I have been in the habit of drinking traditional infusions since my childhood," Josette, a 60-year-old woman who lives in Tsimbazaza neighborhood in the Antananarivo told Anadolu Agency.
Supermarkets and pharmacies in the Madagascar capital, Antananarivo are stashing their shelves with the CVO. But it vanishes from shelves as soon as it arrives.
"We wanted to buy the product. When we went shopping in a supermarket the bottles had been sold out," says Judith, mother of a child. Even though she is not sick or infected, she wants to keep the bottle.
The plant has anti-malaria potion
The National Academy of Medicine of Madagascar (ANAMEM) said they have taken cognizance of the medicinal virtues of the concoction. The Academy suggested setting up a system to monitor people who have consumed this herbal tea.
The Academy said it is not opposed to the use of CVO and left it to the discretion of people, subjected to comply with the indicated dose, especially for children.
Rakoto Fanomezantsoa, a military doctor and director-general of the hospital of Soavinandriana, in Antananarivo, said that one of the components of the CVO does strengthen the immune system and eliminates viruses.
Known under the scientific name of Artemesia Annua, the plant of Chinese origin was first imported to Madagascar in the 1970s to treat malaria.
The first large-scale planting trials were carried out in the Alaotra Mangoro region, but industrial operations are now concentrated in the Itasy, Vakinankaratra, Amoron'i Mania, and Matsiatra Ambony regions.
So far, the product is distributed only in three regions, namely Analamanga, Haute Matsiatra, and Atsinanana which have recorded numerous cases of Coronavirus since March 19.
Madagascar has 128 confirmed COVID-19 cases so far, with no deaths, and 82 recoveries, according to figures compiled by the US-based Johns Hopkins University.
African countries showed interest
According to information from the Presidency of the Republic of Madagascar, three African countries Senegal, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Guinea Bissau, have enquired details about the CVO.
Senegal President Macky Sall has ordered the remedy after contacting his Madagascar counterpart, according to Senegalese local media.
There are over 33.566 coronavirus cases, 1.469 deaths, and 10,152 recoveries recorded in 52 out of 54 African countries, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.