Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina is promoting an herbal remedy that he claims could prevent and cure the COVID-19. The remedy, Covid-Organics, “gives results in seven days,” Rajoelina, told journalists in April.
Based on the herb artemisia, which was first imported in the 1970s from China to treat malaria, the remedy was developed by the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research. The Institute has researched Madagascar’s traditional medicines for more than three decades.
Researchers at Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces are currently investigating artemisia and COVID-19.
Of course the WHO and CDC criticized the Madagascar president’s claims. “There is no scientific evidence that any of these alternative remedies can prevent or cure the illness caused by COVID-19,” reported the CDC.
Tanzania, Liberia, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal, Chad, Republic of Congo, and Guinea-Bissau have all placed orders for the remedy.
In an interview on May 12 with France24, President Rajoelina, wondered: “What is the problem with Covid-Organics, really? Could it be that this product comes from Africa? Could it be that it’s not OK for a country like Madagascar, which is the 63rd poorest country in the world… to have come up with (this formula) that can help save the world? What if this remedy had been discovered by a European country, instead of Madagascar? Would people doubt it so much? I don’t think so.”
Asked by journalists about the evidence that Covid-Organics is really effective against the coronavirus, Rajoelina said that “we had 171 cases of which 105 were cured. The majority of our patients have been cured. The patients who have healed have taken no other product than Covid-Organics.”
Sweet wormwood, Qinghao, has been used in China for more than 2,000 years. The earliest record, from 168 B.C., was written on a piece of silk unearthed from a tomb and recommended the herb as a hemorrhoid therapy. A fourth century manuscript noted it as a malaria treatment and advised readers to take a handful of Qinghao, soak in 2 liters of water, strain the liquid and drink.
Different species of artemisia have a vast range of biological activities including antimalarial, cytotoxic, antihepatotoxic, antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant activity.
In 2005, Chinese scientists reported that an alcoholic extract from Artemisia annua was able to neutralize, the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus, in a petri dish. The study showed the alcoholic extract of sweet wormwood was the second most potent herbal medicine used on the 2005 Sars-CoV.
Based on Chinese studies, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces are now collaborating with ArtemiLife, a U.S. company that grows sweet wormwood, to test plant extracts on SARS-CoV-2 in vitro. Lead scientist Peter Seeberger says they expect to publish the results “very soon.”
Adam Maust, CEO of ArtemiLife, told NutritionInsight that Artemisia annua extracts have previously shown activity against many other viruses, including the herpes and hepatitis viruses and flaviviruses. “Artemisia annua contains a series of active components that interact with proteins of the host and, in turn, impact the rate of replication of the virus.” Artemisia annua extracts show very little toxicity.
The Madagascar remedy has not been tested in a clinical trial in order to determine its safety and efficacy. Marcel Razanamparany, president of the National Academy of Medicine of Madagascar warned: “It is a drug whose scientific evidence has not yet been established, and which risks damaging the health of the population, in particular, that of children.”