The World Health Organisation (WHO) has not given a thumbs up to a Madagascan herbal tonic that is purported to cure the coronavirus but many African leaders are already ordering it by the bucketful. First it was Nigeria and Congo-Brazaville and now, Tanzanian President John Magafuli has promised his countrymen that he will import the herbal tonic. Magafuli is notorious for his insistence that the coronavirus is nothing but a demon that should be prayed away.
The herbal tonic is produced from the artemisia plant – the source of an ingredient used in malaria treatment. Launched as Covid-Organics, the drink went to the market after being tested on less than 20 people over three weeks, said Madagascar’s president’s chief of staff Lova Hasinirina Ranoromaro. WHO does not recommend the use of the substance as a preventative measure against COVID-19 because it is not an advocate for self-medication with any medicines. Several international trials are underway in different countries in an effort to find a vaccine for the virus.
Addressing his nation on television, President Magafuli said he had been in contact with authorities in Madagascar and an airplane was ready to go and collect the drink. Magufuli has already been widely criticized for his reaction to the coronavirus pandemic. He has encouraged the public to continue gathering in places of worship, while much of the world has faced lockdown. According to WHO, the delay in acknowledging the enormity of the pandemic and, therefore, taking appropriate steps to mitigate it, could have led to the spike in positive cases.