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Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina on Monday, April 20, 2020, launched“preventive and curative” artemisia-based remedy called COVID-Organics for patients infected by COVID-19.

The Malagasy Institute of Applied Research (IMRA) which specializes in the study of medicinal plants developed the COVID-organics which contains artemisia, a plant cultivated on the large Island to fight malaria.

Speaking at the launch of COVID-Organics, President Rajoelina stated that “all trials and tests have been conducted and its effectiveness in reducing the elimination of symptoms has been proven for the treatment of patients with COVID-19 in Madagascar.” Rajoelina also revealed that “tests have been carried out – two people have now been cured by this treatment.”

The Madagascan President announced that the “herbal tea gives results in seven days,” and urged his citizens to adopt it as a preventative measure.  Rajoelina who took to Twitter afterward said that the COVID-Organics will be distributed free of charge to the most vulnerable and sold at very low prices to others.

A report by Bionexx a company that specializes in artemisia annua disclosed that Madagascar has the world’s largest supply of artemisia. Annually, the big island country produces 25 tonnes of artemisinin, the plant’s medicinal active ingredient, which is a share of around 10 percent in the global market.

In response to the launch of COVID-Organics, the World Health Organisation (WHO) told BBC that the global organization did not recommend “self-medication with any medicines as a prevention or cure for COVID-19.” WHO reiterated that international trials were underway to find an effective treatment and that there were “no short-cuts” to finding effective mediation to fight coronavirus.

Similarly, Professor Brian Klaas, an expert on Madagascar at University College London, said that Rajoelina’s move could cause Malagasy citizens more harm than good. “It’s dangerous for two reasons – one is that some people will be taking it who should not be taking it,” Klass said. The expert on Madagascar added, “it will give people a false sense of security, so they’ll end up doing things that they would not otherwise have done and put themselves and others at greater risk.”

Nevertheless, a letter by Lucile Cornet-Vernet, Founder and Vice president of La Maison de l’Artemisia to 23 African countries including Madagascar, it was stated that artemisia has the ability to combat coronavirus. “We’ve written to the health ministries of just about every government in Africa,” showing “reviews of scientific research and proposed clinical trial protocols,” that artemisia stands a chance against COVID-19, Cornet-Vernet said.

In addition, Cornet-Vernet cited the fact that China used artemisia to combat COVID-19, so “African countries would be well advised to also embrace this treatment by carrying out clinical trials as soon as possible.”

Furthermore, a press release by the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces explained that artemisia annua is somewhat effective against a virus similar to the novel coronavirus. “Given the similarities between those two viruses (COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2), plant extracts, and artemisinin derivatives need to be tested against the new coronavirus,” Professor Peter Seeberger, Director at the research institute said. 

As of April 22, Madagascar’s confirmed  COVID-19 cases stood at 121 cases of which 44 had recovered with no deaths. “Madagascar has been chosen by God,” Rajoelina said referring to the fact that nobody in the country has died from COVID-19. Consequently, until proven ineffective, COVID-Organics should not be ruled out as a preventive or potential cure for coronavirus. 

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