Do not use untested remedies, WHO warns

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning against people using untested remedies for coronavirus.

Africans deserve access to medicines that have gone through proper trials even if they are derived from traditional treatments, it said.

Its statement comes as Madagascar’s president is promoting a herbal tonic for treating Covid-19 patients.

The African Union (AU) said it wanted to see the scientific data on the “safety and efficacy” of the product.

The tonic, known as Covid-Organics, was tested on fewer than 20 people over three weeks, a presidential aide told the BBC – which is not in line with WHO guidelines on clinical trials.

This can be a lengthy process in which a potential drug is tested in four phases, scaling up from a trial on a small number of patients to using it on a population countrywide.

Despite these reservations, several African countries, including Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea and Liberia, have already ordered Covid-Organics, which is produced from the artemisia plant – the source of an ingredient used in a malaria treatment – and other Malagasy plants.