Coronavirus: WHO green light for tests on traditional African medicine

Coronavirus: WHO green light for tests on traditional African medicine

WHO approves protocol for phase 3 clinical trials of African medicinal herbs to test their efficacy against coronavirus. The aim is to accelerate research

(photo: Indranil Mukherjee / AFP via Getty Images) From today, alongside the countless studies that are taking place around the world to find a drug and a vaccine that is effective against the coronavirus, there will also be tests on traditional medicine products, or better on phytotherapy. This was reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) which has just approved a protocol to test the effectiveness of African herbal medicines as potential treatments for coronavirus and other epidemics.

The possibility of using traditional medicine in the fight against Covid-19 is nothing new. In fact, last April, the president of Madagascar Andry Rajoelina had promoted the use of Covid-Organics, a drink made from mugwort, a plant used for millennia in traditional medicine that has proven effective in the treatment of malaria. A request, however, that had generated skepticism and rejection, as the product had only been tested on 20 people over a three-week period. "The onset of Covid-19, like the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, highlighted the need for strengthened health systems and accelerated research and development programs, including on traditional drugs," explained Prosper Tumusiime, regional director of the WHO.

With the new green light for tests on traditional medicine in the fight against coronavirus, WHO experts together with the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the African Union Commission for Social Affairs encourage experimentation with criteria similar to those used for vaccines and drugs developed in laboratories around the world.

These organizations, in fact, "have approved a protocol for clinical trials of medicinal herbs against Covid-19, together with a guide and terms of reference for establishing a commission for monitoring data and safety of trials on herbal medicine. Phase 3 clinical trials are essential to fully assess the safety and efficacy of a new medical product ", reads a note. "If a traditional medicine product proves to be safe, effective and of quality, WHO will recommend its rapid and large-scale local production," added Tumusiime.

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