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Presidency insists Covid Organics not requested, as FG takes delivery of Madagascan herbal solution


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THE Nigerian government has finally taken delivery of  Covid Organics (CVO), Madagascan herbal solution promoted as cure for the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

The consignment arrived barely 48 hours after Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) disclosed that Nigeria did not request for the drugs.

Garba Shehu, spokesperson to the President tweeted about the arrival of the drugs on Saturday when Buhari received President Umaro Sissoco Embalo of Guinea Bissau, at the State House in Abuja.

The President, in the statement,  restated his commitment to ensuring the mixture undergoes appropriate scientific verifications before it is adopted as a cure for the COVID-19 and administered on infected patients.

“President Muhammadu Buhari Saturday at the State House, Abuja, received the Madagascan native formulation against the #Covid-19 pandemic,” the statement read.

“We have our institutions, systems, and processes in the country. Any such formulations should be sent to them for verification. We will not put it to use without the endorsement of our institutions,” he stated.

Since the Madagascan authority adopted the herbal drug, which has since undergone massive production, about 55 COVID-19 patients have reportedly recovered from the pandemic.

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Despite the success, the process of producing the herbal tonic has been a subject of controversy in Nigeria.

Medical practitioners and other health workers have criticised the government’s decision to bring the drugs into the country.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), and Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), particularly described the idea of importing the herbal solution as thoroughly disgraceful, noting that there are 69 research institutes and federal, state universities in the country capable of developing local solutions.

Also, experts have cautioned over the usage of the drugs because of the short term of the product development, which did not meet the acceptable scientific standard.

Research and development, according to the experts for such product would mostly span between three and six years.

The pre-clinical trial would also take another year.

The in vivo (experiments on cells or molecules outside their usual environment) and in vitro studies (testing in animals, toxicology, efficacy and how quickly the drugs are absorbed and subsequently eliminated) are also checked before it is tried on a larger population and released for public use.

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It is uncertain Covid Organic went through any of this process.

Earlier, The ICIR had reported that the Federal Government may be able to subject the herbal solution to proper clinical trial due to lack of adequate equipment.

On 14th May, the World Health Organisation (WHO) through its Regional Director, Matshidiso Moeti, disclosed an intention to study the herbal solution.

The director indeed had called for caution, stressing the need for a clinical trial.

“We would caution and advise countries against adopting a product that has not been through clinical tests for safety and efficacy,” Moeti had noted.

Notwithstanding, Shehu told The ICIR that the drug is a donation and not a request from the Nigerian authority.

“This is a Madagascan concoction, and they have said it over and again that they are making free donations to brother African nations,” he said, in response to a text message sent by The ICIR.

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Olugbenga is an Investigative Reporter with The ICIR. Email address: [email protected] Twitter handle: @OluAdanikin

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