By Hassan Zaggi
The much talked about Madagascar drug- COVID Organics, that was said to have been discovered to have the capacity to cure COVID-19 patients, has failed to show any scientific evidence that it can treat the disease.
It would be recalled that few months ago, the President of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina, claimed that COVID-Organics, an Artemisia based drink produce in his country has the capacity to prevent and cure COVID-19.
Some countries of the world ordered for the product.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), after discouraging the use of the product, later agreed to work closely with the government of Madagascar to subject the drug to clinical trial.
The Nigerian government, however, ordered the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) to investigate the claim and advice the government appropriately.
After intensive scrutiny of the drug, NIPRD has, however, presented the result of its findings to the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, in Abuja.
The analysis of the COVID Organics, as presented by the NIPRD indicated that the product cannot treat the disease as claimed.
According to the analysis: “COVID ORGANICS – Green Pack (GPA) and Orange Pack (OPB) herbal products contain Artemisia annua as one of the components. Both samples had the characteristic features of Artemisia annua similar to those of the plant grown in NIPRD.
“COVID ORGANICS (OPB and GPA) contains other plants in addition to Artemisia annua; the proportion of Artemisia annua in the product is higher than that of the other plant component(s) and unlike the impression created by the labelling, the two COVID ORGANICS products are not the same with GPA sweeter with a higher extractive value than OPB.”
NIPRD in its analysis further explained that: “The HPLC and TLC profile of COVID ORGANICS products indicated the presence of artemisinin; Artemisinin was detected in the hot water infusion of the COVID ORGANICS products at a very low concentration and undetectable in one of the products; hence, preparing the infusion as directed on the label produced very little artemisinin; safety studies show that COVID ORGANICS (CVO) products do not alter the normal physiology of the animals.”
The analysis further revealed that, “CVO caused a significant decrease in the platelet counts although the values are within the physiological range for Wistar rats; the increase in alkaline phosphatase observed in the CVO female group may indicate a cause of concern although the values are within the physiological ranges for Wistar rats and this was not observed in the organs; on the whole CVO can be considered safe based on the model used which did not cover other routes of administration, effects of long-term use, or organ histological evaluation of the test systems.
“CVO reduced cough frequency with the maximum dose tested producing an effect equivalent to that produced by the centrally acting cough-suppressant, dihydrocodeine.
“To further characterize this product based on its effect on the respiratory tract, it will be important to investigate its effect on tracheal mucus expectoration.
“While CVO dose-dependently reduced general febrile response, the effect was not sustained and was less than for indomethacin.”
However, responding to questions from journalists, the Director General of NIPRD, Dr. Obi Adigwe, reiterated that following their investigation, it is clear that “we did not get any evidence that COVID Organics can cure corona virus.
“This is because our analysis shows there is no evidence that it can cure COVID-19. There is no evidence for that.”
Responding to a question on what did NIPRD do different from Madagascar, Adigwe said: “Well, I cannot tell you what they have done. I can only tell you what we have done here. The analysis we gave in our report is more detail than anything that had come from their country. They are hiding the analysis of their own product. If you go online, you cannot get the level of analysis that we gave.
“They are hiding a lot of things and I think it is possible that they know that they don’t have strong science backing up their claim. But our own analysis does not show any proof that it can cure COVID-19.”
On what his Institute is doing to get a cure for COVID-19, he said: “You know science takes time and it also needs a lot of money. That is what most people don’t understand. There is one product we have that is having a lot of promise. We have finish passing it through the pre-clinical studies. Where we are now is that we are trying to package it for the clinical trial and that is a great deal of work.
“We are moving in a forward direction. We have hope that the product will give a succor.”
Dr. Adigwe, however, assured that if things all come together and “we get the needed funding, within the next six months, we should be able to have something categorical within.”