President of Madagascar dismisses WHO concerns over coronavirus tonic

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Andry Rajoelina, the president of Madagascar, has hit back at criticism from the World Health Organisation (WHO) over COVID-Organics infusion – the herb-based “remedy” developed by the country’s scientists to treat coronavirus.

The tonic, which resembles tea, is derived from artemisia, a plant with proven efficacy in treating malaria, as well as several other herbs native to the island.

Rajoelina, speaking to Radio France International (RFI), accused the WHO of “underestimating” the intelligence of African people. He said: “If it wasn’t Madagascar, and if it was a European country that had actually discovered this remedy, would there be so much doubt? I don’t think so.”  

The WHO has expressed concerns regarding the tonic’s curative credentials, as it has not been clinically tested outside of Madagascar. Despite this, several African countries, including Niger and Guinea-Bissau, have signed up for shipments of the of the potion, which launched in April. “No country or organisation will keep us from going forward,” Rajoelina told RFI.

Image credit: Getty Images/Rijasolo

Rohan Banerjee is a Special Projects Writer at the New Statesman

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