Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina on Friday launched a capsule version of a herbal drink he touts as a coronavirus treatment and cure.
“COVID-Organics” is derived from artemisia — a plant with proven anti-malarial properties — and other indigenous herbs.
The infusion’s effects have not been scientifically tested and the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued several warnings against its use and distribution.
“Today (Friday), we present to the entire world capsules containing extracts of artemisia and ravintsara, a local Malagasy plant, whose virtues are recognized globally,” Rajoelina announced at an inauguration ceremony hosted by local pharmaceutical company Pharmagalasy.
“Those who struggle to ingest the infusion can now take this CVO+ capsule that will be sold across the world,” he added, speaking at the Pharmagalasy plant outside the capital Antananarivo.
At the launch, WHO country representative Charlotte Faty Ndiaye congratulated the president for leading “the fight against this global pandemic”.
The UN body recently endorsed guidelines to help scientists conduct proper trials of potential herbal coronavirus cures.
Rajoelina boasted about Madagascar’s natural resources and expertise that could “change history”, adding that COVID-Organics was a “source of pride” for the country.
More than a quarter of Madagascar’s 26 million inhabitants have so far taken the drink, according to government figures, and there are still nine million bottles in stock.
But the Indian Ocean island nation has still recorded more than 16,400 coronavirus cases and at least 232 deaths, although the spread of infection has slowed in recent weeks.
Pharmalagasy has the capacity to produce 32,000 CVO+ capsules per day and already has 275 million in stock.
Rajoelina did not specify when sales would begin.