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No evidence that herbal remedy touted in Madagascar cures COVID-19

April 29, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Madagascar is the first country to succeed in finding a cure for COVID-19. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina has been promoting an herbal drink called Covid Organics as a remedy for  COVID-19, but there’s no scientific evidence to show it’s effective. 

THE FACTS: Posts claiming the drink can “wipe out the virus at any stage” circulated on social media this week after some students returning to school in Madagascar were given face masks and a small bottle of the herbal extract to drink before going to class.

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Medical experts are critical of the drink, noting there are no scientific tests to indicate it would be effective against the novel coronavirus, according to AP reporting. 

Social media posts touting the drink emerged earlier this month after Rajoelina launched the product.

“CORONA MEDICINE FOUND IN MADAGASCAR. The President of Madagascar Andry Rajovelina today was busy officially launching final medicine for Corona infection. The medicine is made from natural herbal mixes that wipe out the virus at any stage within a period of six days. Madagascar is the first country to succeed in finding a cure for its people, against the pandemic,” stated one Facebook post shared more than 3,000 times. 

The Malagasy Institute of Applied Research, an organization that has researched Madagascar’s traditional medicines for more than three decades, developed the drink. No ingredients are listed on the bottle, but according to the president, the drink is derived from artemisia, a bitterroot used in some malaria drugs.

The country’s national medical academy has expressed concern over the drink. 

“The scientific evidence that this is effective has not been proved. It’s likely that it could actually harm the health of the population, particularly that of children,” Marcel Razanamparany, president of Madagascar’s Academy of Medicine, said in a statement.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health also warned against alternative medicine — including certain herbal therapies and teas — for treating or preventing COVID-19, saying there was no evidence they work and some may be unsafe.

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There are 128 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Madagascar and no deaths linked to the virus.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536