Findings from the analysis of COVID Organics shows that it largely contains anti-malaria components, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said on Thursday.
COVID Organics is a herbal mixture developed by the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research. It was reportedly used in treating COVID-19 patients in Madagascar.
President Muhammadu Buhari, on May 16, received some of the herbal remedy from the Madagascar government but said he will await research outcomes before allowing any new medicine be administered on Nigerians.
Since its launch in April, the use of the Malagasy herbal remedy to treat COVID-19 patients has been trailed by a lot of controversy.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) had cautioned countries against adopting a product that has not undergone thorough scientific research.
The health agency advised governments to clinically test the Madagascar herbal drink before using it to treat COVID-19.
Mr Ehanire, while speaking at the bi-weekly briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, said a variety of the herb grows in Nigeria.
“Preliminary results of the analysis of the so-called Madagascar herbs by the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) show that it is the same as the plant Artemisia anua, which is grown in the NIPRD farm. Further research on its efficacy will be conducted when the grants for research is approved.
“The so-called Madagascar herb is one component of the malaria treatment medicine. Some years ago, the government actually imported this plant and has a plantation of it in trying to develop its own production of the artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). The plantation is still there but the process has not gone that much further.
“We are looking into seeing what has held it up but the plant is here; it was intended for producing anti-malaria, and the type we have here has a very high yield of artemisinin – which is actually the active ingredient,” he said.
The minister, however, said relevant government agencies will continue the process of evaluation to determine its effectiveness in treating COVID-19.