US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — In recent days, a funny ballet has taken place between Madagascar and several African countries. At the request of the Head of State, Andry Rajoelina, transformed into a sales representative, the authorities have delivered in around ten countries their remedy based on artemisia, this plant with a recognized therapeutic effect against malaria, claiming that it prevented or even treated Covid-19.
After alerts from WHO and other institutions, the Big Island wanted to take stock when it launched formal clinical trials several weeks ago. And if only one piece of information had to be retained, it is that the herbal tea has not yet obtained marketing authorization in Madagascar.
In question, the secret which surrounds its composition. In fact, Covid-Organics is made up of 62% Artemisia and other medicinal plants that grow in Madagascar, but the Madagascan Institute for Applied Research, IMRA, will say no more.
No marketing authorization
Prof. Rafat Herintsoa, one of three scientists authorized by the Malagasy state to speak on the issue, said that the Covid-Organics had not received the green light from the administration in charge of drug control. “This authorization has not yet been obtained,” said Professor Herintsoa during a television program. “The entity that owns the patent on this remedy has not yet agreed to reveal the two other plants that make it up. However, the state has issued a temporary marketing authorization “in Madagascar,” added the director of IMRA.
Called Covid-Organics, this herbal tea has been widely sold in the country. Several countries, including Guinea- Bissau, Equatorial Guinea , Niger and Tanzania have also taken delivery, despite the lack of official certification. “Covid-Organics shipments to African countries are made as a donation,” defended on television the Minister of Communication, Lalatiana Rakotondrazafy.
The infatuation of African leaders
Beyond the scientific question, the battle seems to be played out on the symbolic level. Explanation: a few days earlier, meeting in video conference, several African heads of state discussed the therapeutic effects of “Covid-Organics” on the coronavirus. In his speech, the Madagascan president said: “We are meeting by videoconference in a difficult context for the world but especially for Africa”, adding that we are facing today a world war linked to an invisible enemy, the coronavirus. “We are at war, but this time, it is not bombs or bullets that will be our ammunition, but the intelligence of our scientists, the audacity of the leaders and solidarity,” he said. insisted.
Supporting statistics, Andry Rajoelina Gave answers. According to him, the state of health of the Madagascan patients of Covid-19 who agreed to test the treatment showed a clear improvement after seven days for some, it is even a total recovery, even a cure in ten days. But above all, the curative treatment protocol of “Covid-Organics” has proven to be more effective and less invasive for the body than treatment based on chloroquine, detailed the Head of State.
Confcall avec les chefs d’états africains 👉🏽
Notre impératif est le même: préserver & sauver les vies en danger. Coordonnons nos actions pour endiguer l’épidémie !
C’est l‘heure de la solidarité africaine. #Madagascar offrira le Tambavy CVO aux malades & hôpitaux du continent. pic.twitter.com/gAwzQFMgjo
— Andry Rajoelina (@SE_Rajoelina) May 1, 2020
Opposite, behind their screens, several leaders drink his words while calling for African solidarity to overcome the disease. Senegalese President Macky Sall was the first to congratulate Andry Rajoelina on his remedy. It was a few weeks ago. Since then, Madagascar and its remedy have toured the international media. And the beverage continues to be distributed.
Last country to have received its share: Tanzania. Even if President John Magufuli does not believe in its existence, his government says it is ready to test the Covid-Organics. “Tanzania today received support from Madagascar for coronavirus drugs,” said government spokesman Hassan Abas in a message on Twitter.
Earlier in the week, it was Niger that received its share. “Ismail Annar, the cabinet director to the Minister of Health, received the batch of products offered free of charge by Madagascar,” Souley Zabérou, of the Ministry of Health, told AFP. The products are contained in sachets ready to be “administered in the form of an infusion”, to “treat 900 people: 300 for already contaminated patients and 600 as a preventive measure,” he said. Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea received Covid-Organics last week.
WHO punches fist on the table
Much to the chagrin of WHO. The World Health Organization still has reservations pending a reliable scientific study. “Even when treatments come from traditional practice and from nature, it is essential to establish their efficacy and safety through rigorous clinical trials,” insisted the WHO.
“Medicinal plants such as artemisia annua are considered a possible treatment for Covid-19, but trials should be carried out to assess their effectiveness and determine their adverse effects, “the organization said. The head of WHO for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, urged the Malagasy government to “have [his] product tested in clinical trials” in order to “verify its effectiveness […] and its safety in populations.”
For the moment, South Africa, the country most affected by the pandemic with more than 7,800 cases and some 150 dead, has only announced its aid to Madagascar to conduct scientific trials. “We will only participate in the scientific analysis of this herb,” said its Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize.
The small kingdom of Eswatini has also refused for the moment to import the Malagasy “remedy”. “It is important to first assess how these herbal products have been tested,” said Health Minister Lizzie Nkosi on Thursday. The regional manager for Africa was also concerned about the effects of promoting this drink on compliance with prevention rules.
Professor Moussa Seydi, the head of the department of infectious diseases at the hospital in Fann, Senegal, says nothing else. “I, as a doctor, will not use it. As a researcher, the drug must be able to act at the laboratory level, but also that this drug must also act in humans before I can make a decision, “said the chairman of the Covid-19 Scientific Committee. from the Ministry of Health of Senegal. In the sub-region, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has denied having ordered the Madagascan herbal tea. “We can only promote products with scientifically recognized efficacy,” she said.
And now ?
The African Union, whose leaders participated in the videoconference with the Madagascan president, does not want to remain on the sidelines. The pan-African institution calls on the authorities to test the effectiveness of the remedy. “The AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, HE Amira El Fadil, convened a meeting with the Chargé d’affaires of the Republic of Madagascar, Mr. Éric Randrianantoandro, on April 30, during which it was agreed that the member state would provide the African Union with the necessary details regarding the herbal remedy,” a statement said.
“Once the details have been provided, the Union, through the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), will review the scientific data collected to date on safety and
Madagascar has the largest stock of artemisia in all of Africa with 3,000 tonnes a year. Its value in tons is 3,000 dollars against 350 for rice.
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