Tanzania says it has received its first shipment of Madagascar’s self-proclaimed, plant-based “cure” for coronavirus, despite warnings from the World Health Organization that its efficacy is unproven.
The announcement on Friday came days after Madagascar said it would begin selling the herbal concoction – known as Covid-Organics – and that several African countries had already put in orders.
“Tanzania today received the support of coronavirus medicine from Madagascar,” government spokesman Hassan Abas said on Twitter.
The purported remedy is a drink derived from artemisia – a plant with proven efficacy in malaria treatment – and other indigenous herbs.
Last month, 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.
Earlier this week, the East African island nation told the Reuters news agency it would begin selling the drink, which domestically can be bought for around 40 US cents per bottle.
Along with Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Guinea-Bissau have already received thousands of doses of Covid-Organics free of charge.
Guinea-Bissau has received more than 16,000 doses which it is distributing to the 14 other African nations.
Liberia’s Deputy Information Minister Eugene Farghon said this week there was no plan to test the remedy before distribution.
“It will be used by Liberians and will be used on Liberians,” he said, noting that the WHO had not tested other popular local remedies.
“Madagascar is an African country … Therefore we will proceed as an African nation and will continue to use our African herbs.”