Things You Didn’t Know About Madagascar Coronavirus Vaccine
In today’s article, we’ll be talking more about Madagascar coronavirus vaccine so you can be able to know about it. On April 20, the president calls a press conference to announce a breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19. It’s a new use for old malaria treatment, he says, one that is seeing miraculous results among the country’s most ill patients. It’s so safe that even schoolchildren could take it. In fact, he urges them to do so daily, as a preventative. He admits that he, too, is taking the medicine. Giving the fact that this so-called coronavirus vaccine works in the country and has helped many patients recover from the pandemic, experts are still having their doubts even the WHO in general. So to say, there’s still more to know about Madagascar coronavirus vaccine.
According to the World Health Organization, there are no medicines that have been shown to prevent or cure COVID-19. That hasn’t stopped people from making researches at any potential treatment that might provide a way out of the devastating lockdowns that are collapsing national economies, or stave off the threat of mounting death tolls. Aides pass bottles of the herbal remedy, labelled “COVID-Organics,” to the assembled diplomats, ministers and journalists. They sip appreciatively, then break into applause as the president of this island nation announces that the first African cure for coronavirus, based on traditional African medicine, will be distributed countrywide, and, eventually across the continent.
Back in Madagascar, the international uproar was met with bafflement. The use of traditional remedies there is so deeply ingrained that most Malagasies, as they call themselves, would just as likely reach for a herbal cure to treat a headache or a stomach-ache as they would a western pharmaceutical product, says Tiana Andriamanana, the executive director of local conservation NGO Fanamby. Andriamanana’s work often takes her to poor and rural areas where hospitals and pharmacies are hard to find, and conventional medicine is often unaffordable. “A lot of times there isn’t really a choice,” she says. “Traditional medicine is how we roll.” Nor are Malagasies alone in their reliance on traditional medicine: according to the WHO, 87% of African populations use it.
Madagascar’s President Andry Rajo even drank a sample of the COVID-Organics or CVO remedy at a launch ceremony in Antananarivo on April 20, 2020. He further slammed sceptics in an interview with France 24, claiming that more than 100 COVID-19 patients in Madagascar had already been successfully treated with COVID-Organics. “When we are in this period of war, what is the proof we can show or give? It is, of course, the healing of our sick,” he said. “I think the problem is that [the drink] comes from Africa and they can’t admit…that a country like Madagascar…has come up with this formula to save the world.” Now read further below in order to know about Madagascar coronavirus vaccine.
More About Madagascar Coronavirus Vaccine and How it Surfaced
We’ll be telling you things you need to know about Madagascar coronavirus vaccine below:
- When news first emerged in January of a mysterious influenza-like disease in China that didn’t respond to conventional treatment, IMRA’s director-general, Dr Charles Andrianjara, got to work. Since its founding in 1957, the institute’s researchers have catalogued thousands of medicinal herbs used by Madagascar’s traditional healers. Andrianjara wondered if some of the institute’s herbal knowledge might help fight the emerging viral illness. “Our hypothesis was that if we could treat the cough, the respiratory difficulties, the aches, the fever, then we could treat the virus.” He combed the database, seeking herbs with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as natural cough suppressants and fever reducers.
- The institute had also been studying artemisia annual, or sweet wormwood, a common anti-malarial that had shown promising signs in the treatment of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), another respiratory disease caused by a coronavirus, which emerged from China in 2002. “COVID and SARS are very similar in terms of their genetic structure,” says Andrianjara, “so our hypothesis was that artemisia might have an effect on COVID-19.”
- Andrianjara’s team combined artemisia with other ingredients to create a herbal tea and offered the decoction to patients who had tested positive for the disease. “We started with one, two [patients] and we found that it really reduced their symptoms,” he says. “They recovered quickly.” IMRA has not conducted any formal trials or tests; Andrianjara’s assessment comes only from observing the reactions of a handful of patients outside of a controlled setting. While he says that the patients were not receiving any other treatments at the same time, there is no formal documentation. When President Rajoelina made his announcement, fewer than 20 patients had received the remedy.
- The launch of COVID-Organics (CVO for short) in Madagascar was no different. Within days, multiple African nations, as well as Haiti, was asking about shipments. And while CVO is not yet available for export, Rajoelina acquiesced by sending samples for free. The promotion of an untested cure sparked consternation among the medical community in Africa and provoked an unusually sharp rebuke from the WHO, which noted in a statement on May 4 that, “Caution must be taken against misinformation, especially on social media, about the effectiveness of certain remedies. Many plants and substances are being proposed without the minimum requirements and evidence of quality, safety and efficacy.” The use of such untested products, it continued, “can put people in danger, giving a false sense of security and distracting them from hand washing and physical distancing which are cardinal in COVID-19 prevention.”
- The establishment that developed CVO, the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research [IMRA], is well-respected in the country for its work refining those remedies: some of that research has led to the discovery of internationally recognized pharmaceutical treatments such as Madeglucyl, which can help with diabetes management. It also helped identify the Madagascar periwinkle’s potential in cancer treatment; compounds isolated from the flower are now being used in treatments for breast, bladder and lung cancers.
- It’s impossible for doctors and scientists to validate any of these claims; other than saying that CVO contains 62% artemisia, IMRA has not released the names of the other ingredients, for fear that the formula could be stolen. While President Rajoelina promotes CVO as both a cure and a preventative, it hasn’t been cleared for distribution as a drug by Madagascar’s National Academy of Medicine, which warned in a statement that “It is a medicine for which the scientific evidence has not yet been established and which risks damaging the health of the population, in particular, that of children.”
- On the streets of Antananarivo, the Malagasy capital, there is no debate. COVID-Organics can be found in nearly every supermarket and corner shop. The recommended dose is two teas a day, for seven days, and it is sold for the equivalent of 20 cents for a single-serving bottle of tea or $1.50 for a box of 10 tea bags that can be steeped at home.
- In a media briefing on May 14, the WHO stated that there was no scientific evidence to support the safety and efficacy of COVID-Organics. The WHO’s regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said that rigorous testing would be vital for credibility, “So that when we celebrate the discovery of this treatment in Africa it is on the basis of evidence that can be shared around the world.” South Africa-based virologist Denis Chopra sees it as a supplement rather than a cure, telling the Voice of America’s Africa broadcast that “I don’t think there’s any harm, but I don’t think people should expect that it will treat them and cure COVID-19 because that has not been proven scientifically.”
- Madagascar’s government is now in talks with the WHO and the African Union over how to develop a rigorous testing protocol for CVO. The biggest obstacle they face at the moment is the lack of sufficient patients—without enough infected people, it’s impossible to run a controlled study on the curative effects. “What can we do?” asks Andrianjara. “We don’t want more people getting sick, just so we can do more tests.” Meanwhile, researchers at Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces are testing Artemisia annua extracts to determine its effectiveness in speeding recovery from the virus.
Why Hasn’t this Drug Been Recommended till Date?
Lova Hasinirina Ranoromaro, the chief of staff to the president of Madagascar told BBC in April, that the cure had been tested on less than 20 people over a period of three weeks. And the ministry of public health stated that the drug being touted by the country has not been subjected to rigorous scientific processes. The National Academy of Medicine of Madagascar (ANAMEM) said the remedy “is a drug whose scientific evidence has not yet been established, and which risks damaging the health of the population, in particular, that of children”.
So to say, this vaccine needs to pass through some processes before it can be looked into;
- According to the global standards, “once a promising vaccine is identified”, they undergo “scrupulous laboratory testing”. This includes careful examination and testing of the vaccine and its ingredients.
- If the ingredients are found to be safe, they then go to clinical trials in three phases. The first phase involves 20 to 50 people to “assess the safety, side effects, appropriate dosage, method of administration, and composition of the vaccine”.
- If phase I is successful, phase II kicks off with several hundred people with the same age and sex and other characteristics as the final intended users. If phase II goes on well, then phase III is activated. Here, the vaccine is usually given to thousands of people to help ensure it is safe and effective for broader use.
- Regulators then assess the results of the vaccine trials and decide based on hard evidence, if the vaccine can be regarded as a safe cure to a certain disease or not. This often takes years, but for COVID-19, the world is in a hurry for a cure, so everything is done at a faster pace, but even the fastest vaccine is expected to take 12 months.