• PTF confirms search for local cure, warns on cases explosion

President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to pick up Covid-Organics, Madagascar’s self-proclaimed plant-based remedy for coronavirus.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha,  made the disclosure at yesterday’s briefing.

He said Madagascar donated some of the products to Nigeria through Guinea-Bissau and arrangements were being made to pick them up.

Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina had three weeks ago officially launched a medicine he believed can prevent and cure patients suffering from COVID-19.

Developed by the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research and branded COVID Organics, President Rajaolina, while presenting the remedy to the media, said it contains Artemisia, a plant cultivated on the Big Island to fight against malaria.

“All trials and tests have been conducted and its effectiveness in reducing the elimination of symptoms has been proven for the treatment of patients with COVID-19 in Madagascar,” President Rajaolina had said.

Mustapha, while responding to a question on if Nigeria had ordered for the syrup said: “It’s been sent to Guinea Bissau by the President or Prime Minister of Madagascar and certain allocations have been made to different countries. We have an indication of the quantity that has been allocated to Nigeria and we are supposed to make an arrangement to freight it out of Guinea Bissau to Nigeria.

“I’ve received instructions from Mr. President to make arrangements to freight it home, with a clear instruction that I should subject it to the validation process similar to what will happen to any other medicine or syrup or vaccine that is discovered or created internally. So, it will be subjected to the same process before it is put into any form of use. There’ll be no exception for that. Madagascar has made allocations to various countries, and sent them to Guinea Bissau. We’re supposed to make arrangements to freight Nigeria’s allocation from Guinea Bissau; it’ll be subjected to the standard validation process for pharmaceuticals.

“Mr. President has given instructions for the airlifting of Nigeria’s allocation of the Madagascar COVID-19 Syrup and clear instructions that it must be subjected to the standard validation process for pharmaceuticals; there will be no exceptions for this.”

The SGF reiterated that Nigeria has only one national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Whereas there are differing strategies is in the implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions, but as far as the (health) response is concerned, there is only one National Response.”

Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said the extract of the plant used for the herbal drug  grows in the country.

According to him, the herbal drug will be subjected to analysis by the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) to determine its efficacy and safety before it can be adopted for the treatment of COVID-19.

“We are going to get samples of the herb of the botanical product for analyses and also probably use that opportunity to speak with the health authorities there particularly the scientific community on how they use it. We will also give it to the research community here with us to examine and see what they can do with it.

“We understand that it is something called Artemisia Annua, which also grows here. But we would like to get that sample and compare it with the strain here to know if they are exactly identical or similar and then see what properties it has.

“It will be subjected to analysis to find out what works in there and how it works and is used in getting a cure. All countries around the world are interested in finding a cure and we are not different; So, we will look at all options and promises that have been made. Before we give any of these medicines to our people, we will make sure they are actually safe and that they work,” Ehanire said.

The Federal Government also condemned in strong terms the challenges facing the frontline health workers, including receiving threats from patients in their care.

According to the SGF, the PTF COVID-19 viewed such behaviour as reprehensible and should be deprecated. He called on state governments to take this up appropriately.

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