By Maurice Ogu

The herbal drug which Madagascar touted as cure for coronavirus has been delivered to President Muhammadu at Aso Villa, on Saturday.

President Buhari, who received portions of the drug from Guinea Bissau’s President, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, said the drug must be verified before use.

Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, quoted Buhari as saying the drug will go through the verification process which other remedies for the disease are being subjected to.

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“President Muhammadu Buhari Saturday at the State House, Abuja, received the Madagascan native formulation against the Covid-19 pandemic, and reiterated that he will listen to science before allowing traditional or any new medicines to be administered on Nigerians,” Shehu said.

“We have our institutions, systems and processes in the country. Any such formulations should be sent to them for verification. I will not put it to use without the endorsement of our institutions,” Buhari is quoted to have said.

The drug, which is branded as herbal tea and named COVID-Organics, was launched in April 20, with its main ingredient being sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua), a plant of Asian origin from where the antimalarial drug, artemisinin, came.

At least 55 coronavirus patients in Madagascar are said to have recovered after being treated with the remedy.

During the launch, Madagascar’s President, Andry Rajoelina, had said: “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.”

But the herbal remedy has remained a subject of controversy. Madagascar’s National Medical Academy had cast doubt on its efficacy while the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it is still being studied.

Top Nigerian medical associations such as the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) rejected it, describing the country’s acceptance of the remedy as embarrassing.

MAURICE OGU (@cojmaurice)

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