President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to accept the consignment of a herbal tea touted as a cure for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from the government of Madagascar.
Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina launched the herbal tea, named COVID-Organics, last month, claiming that it has cured coronavirus patients.
The herbal tea produced by the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research (IMRA), was created from the Artemisia plant which has been used in malaria drugs.
Even though Madagascar’s national medical academy has warned that no scientific evidence has been established that COVID-Organics works, the government started handing out the herbal tea for free to citizens.
News reports over the weekend also indicated that samples of the herbal tea have been shipped to other African countries, including Nigeria.
When quizzed by a journalist about the report during the daily briefing of the PTF on Monday, May 11, 2020, the chairman of the task force, Boss Mustapha, said Nigeria’s allocation has been sent to Guinea-Bissau.
“I have received instructions from Mr President to make arrangements to freight it home with a clear instruction that I should subject it to the validation process, similar to what would happen to any other medicine or serum, or vaccine that is created internally,” he said.
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said Nigeria hopes to be able to get a sample of the herb for analysis, as well as speak to health authorities in Madagascar, before it can be considered for deployment in the country.
“We understand that it is something called artemisia annua which also grows here.
“We’ll like to compare it with the strain here on whether they’re exactly identical and then see what properties it has.
“Things like that are subjected to analysis to find out what works in there, how it works, and the use in getting a cure.
“Obviously, all countries in the world are interested in finding a cure and we’re not different, so we’re looking at all options and promises made to examine them,” the minister said.
Ehanire said COVID-Organics will not be given to Nigerians as medicine until it has been confirmed to be safe for consumption, and works for the purpose that has been claimed.
The herbal tea has not undergone any scientific testing recognised internationally, and has raised concerns from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
WHO Africa head, Matshidiso Moeti, said last week she was concerned people who drank the product might feel they were immune to COVID-19 and engage in risky behaviour.
Many in the science community all over the world have been working on a vaccine for the coronavirus disease which has infected over four million people globally.
The COVID-19 outbreak has crippled social and economic activities globally, and killed over 285,000 people.