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No, African leaders haven’t endorsed Madagascar’s ‘herbal medicine’ as coronavirus vaccine

A post doing the rounds on Facebook claims African leaders have endorsed a Madagascan “vaccine” for Covid-19

 "BREAKING !!! Covid-19 Cure; African Leaders Endorse Madagascar Vaccine!" the post starts.

It says African presidents, including South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, Egypt’s Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, held a meeting and have “not been left behind, after endorsing the adoption of Covid-19 organic medicine made available by the republic of Madagascar”. 

The post, published 3 May 2020, promises that “in the next few days, organic medicine will get to all African countries including Nigeria”. 

Africa Check has previously investigated the artemisia-based herbal drink called Covid-Organics that has been promoted by Madagascar’s president, Andry Rajoelina. We found that there was no evidence that the tonic cures Covid-19. 

On 4 May the World Health Organization issued a statement to say that medicinal plants such as Artemisia annua “are being considered as possible treatments for Covid-19 and should be tested for efficacy and adverse side effects”. 

The health agency said it was working with countries to ensure safe and effective traditional medicine development in Africa by providing financial resources and technical support.

While these tests are ongoing, has Madagascar created a vaccine for Covid-19? And have African leaders endorsed it?

Review of tonic still coming – African Union

The African Union said on 4 May that it is still in discussion with Madagascar, “with a view to obtain technical data regarding the safety and efficiency of a herbal remedy, recently announced by Madagascar for the reported prevention and treatment of Covid-19”. 

The statement made it clear that the continental body would work through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to review the “safety and efficacy of the Covid-Organics”. It was not an endorsement of the tonic. 

Old photo of East African leaders

There is also no evidence that African heads of state have met to “endorse the adoption” of Madagascar’s herbal concoction. 

The photo of leaders in the Facebook post is an old photo of East African heads of state. It has been republished widely, including in this unrelated 14 April article from South Sudan. It also appears on the homepage of the East African Entrepreneurs Association

The photo does not show a meeting of African leaders to endorse any Covid-19 treatment. 

NCDC debunks claim, WHO says no vaccine

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control communications team told Africa Check that Nigeria has not ordered the herbal medicine from Madagascar.

“The NCDC is yet to review the treatment therapy used in Madagascar,” they said.

The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) was also reported denying it had ordered the herbal remedy from Madagascar. 

In its 4 May statement,  the World Health Organization made clear that the use of products to treat Covid-19 that have not been robustly investigated can be dangerous.

The WHO is also clear that no vaccine has yet been developed to prevent Covid-19. – Motunrayo Joel


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