Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday approved the airlifting of the country’s allocation of the Madagascar anti-coronavirus drink.
“Mr President has given instructions for the airlifting of Nigeria’s allocation of the Madagascar #Covid19 Syrup,” Boss Mustapha, secretary to the Nigerian government said at the COVID19 daily press briefing.
Mustapha disclosed that the president also gave “clear instructions that it must be subjected to the standard validation process for pharmaceuticals; there will be no exceptions for this.”
“Where there are differing Strategies is in the implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions. But as far as the (Health) Response is concerned, there is only one National Response,” Mustapha said.
The herbal mixture is a drink derived from artemisia – a plant with proven efficacy in malaria treatment – and other indigenous herbs.
In April, Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina launched the remedy at a news conference, drinking from a sleekly-branded bottle filled with an amber liquid which he said had already cured two people.
Madagascar has since been giving away thousands of bottles of the product, developed by the state-run Malagasy Institute of Applied Research, to countries across Africa.
World Health Organization (WHO), however, said the drink’s efficacy is unproven and warned against “adopting a product that has not been taken through tests to see its efficacy”.
Isolated compounds extracted from artemisia are effective in malaria drugs WHO noted but said the plant itself cannot treat malaria.
The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention also said the drink should be “tested rigorously”.
Health specialists are worried that people who drink the product might feel they are immune to COVID-19 and engage in risky behaviour, WHO’s Africa head Matshidiso Moeti said.
“We are concerned that touting this product as a preventive measure might then make people feel safe,” she said.
While the global health body is yet to approve the usage of the drink to treat coronavirus patients, many African countries like Nigeria are trusting the drink produced by Madagascar.