Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina has launched what is claimed to be a herbal remedy for preventing and curing the novel coronavirus. He claims the remedy can cure the infection within seven days.

It is called Covid-Organics, derived from Artemisia, a plant used in treating malaria. It is made by the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research (IMRA). During a conference attended by several diplomats and journalists at the IMRA, Rajoelina claimed several tests proved the efficacy of the concoction in combating the coronavirus.

The remedy's safety and effectiveness are yet to be tested internationally. The Indian Ocean Island has had 121 Covid-19 cases so far. There have been no reports of any deaths.

As the virus wreaks havoc across the world, intense efforts are on to find a cure, and among these are herbal teas.

A shop assistant arranges jars containing roots and herbs at a Chinese medicine shop in Singapore
Representational Image Reuters

The sweet wormwood tree

The concoction is said to be derived from a set of herbs grown in the country. Rajoelina took the first sip during the conference and claimed it is pure and can help in keeping the immunity. In a tweet, Rajoelina said the drink would be sold free of charge to the poorer sections of society.

"All profits will be donated to IMRA to fund scientific research. Let us believe in our ability to cope and move forward," he said. Since it was set up, the IMRA has made around 50 herbal products for several diseases.

The concoction has met with scepticism from several health experts. The US Centers for Disease Control said: "There is no scientific evidence that any of these alternative remedies can prevent or cure the illness caused by COVID-19. In fact, some of them may not be safe to consume."

Madagascar declared a national emergency on March 20 after the first few cases of coronavirus emerged in the country. On Monday some restrictions were lifted in major cities.

Herbal remedies not just from Madagascar

Madagascar is not the only country to come up with a herbal remedy. Previously, the Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo had also made claims about herbal tea helping him ward off the coronavirus. In several places, people are also trying out Chinese remedies and herbs to help fight the disease. There have been reports from Zimbabwe where patients are seeking herbal treatments.