When Constantino Chiwenga, Zimbabwe's vice-president and health minister, suspended by-elections in October 2020 citing Statutory Instrument ... (SI) 225A as a means to curb Covid-19, many believed a new date would be set. Instead, the government has remained silent on the matter, with many wondering if this is truly a measure to control the pandemic, or a strategy by the ruling Zanu PF to stop the MDC Alliance from winning back seats it lost after the recall by its breakaway party, the MDC-T.
What exactly are the mysterious medications Andry Rajoelina plans on testing now? According to information obtained, the two substances in question are artesunate, a derivative of artemisia (the substance present in Covid-Organics herbal tea, advertised by the president as a “preventive and curative” remedy), and vitamin C.
A document summarising the clinical trial protocol, published on the Pan African Clinical Trials Registry (PACTR) website, confirms this information. The trial “aims to assess the efficacy of injectable artesunate alone and artesunate IV+ Vitamin C IV in reducing viral load in patients with COVID-19”.
Artesunate will effectively be administered through intravenous injection, as will vitamin C, for a period of seven days. The study population includes around 60 adults, aged 18 to 70 years, who are COVID-19 positive and have moderate symptoms. They will be split into three groups: the first group will receive a placebo, the second will be administered artesunate alone, and the third will be given artesunate in combination with vitamin C.
Collaboration with WHO
The clinical trial will be carried out on volunteers at a site specifically set up for this purpose, the Voara village located in Andohatapenaka, a neighbourhood in Antananarivo. The Malagasy state is funding the study for an undisclosed amount. The same document specifies that the trials have been “registered in accordance with WHO and ICMJE [International Committee of Medical Journal Editors] standards”.
Rinah Rakotomanga, Chief Communications Officer for the Malagasy president, confirms: ”We’re working in close collaboration with WHO’s scientific team. The trial is underway.”
Also according to our sources, the Malagasy authorities are working with An Oasis of Healing, a private clinic located in Mesa, Arizona (United States) specialising in alternative cancer treatments.
Its founder, Thomas Lodi, based in Thailand, is involved in the research with Madagascar. With a degree in conventional medicine, he promotes alternative cancer treatments and has also practiced homeopathy and allopathy for more than 10 years. His colleague, Nathan Goodyear, who also has a degree in conventional medicine and is the medical director at An Oasis of Healing, has, like Lodi, over 10 years of experience in developing alternative treatments.
Fighting malaria and cancer
“Artesunate is a derivative of artemisinin, which itself is one of the active ingredients of the artemisia plant,” Goodyear tells us. “Combining these two substances to create treatments isn’t new. They’re already being used to treat malaria and cancer, but now we’re conducting research on their use in fighting the novel coronavirus.”
In addition, Goodyear says, “artesunate and vitamin C produce, when used together, a calming effect on certain parts of the immune system, as well as a stimulating effect on other parts – and they also have strong anti-viral activity”.
According to the clinical trial summary, the other researchers involved include the Mauritians Dhanjay Jhurry and Archana Bhaw-Luximon. In Madagascar, Professor Luc Rakotovao is coordinating the study. He has been one of the promoters of Covid-Organics since the end of April. The Malagasy Institute of Applied Research (IMRA), which developed Covid-Organics, is not taking part in the research this time around.
As the President of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina, explained on 20 May in front of WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus, this injectable medication would be the country’s third treatment protocol, in addition to the first, a hydroxychloroquine-based treatment, and the second, the Covid-Organics herbal remedy.
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