Minister of health, Osagie Ehanire has said Nigeria has a plantation of the “Madagascar herb” for COVID-19.
The herb, called COVID-Organics, is a plant-based remedy produced in Madagascar and touted to cure the coronavirus disease.
The herbal remedy, a drink largely derived from artemisia which is a plant with proven efficacy in malaria treatment, was received in Nigeria in May.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who received portions of the drug from Guinea Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, had said the drug would go through the verification process which other remedies for COVID-19 are being subjected to.
Speaking during the presidential task force COVID-19 briefing on Thursday, Ehanire said the government had imported the plant (artemisia) while trying to develop the production of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) for anti-malaria some years ago.
But he did not say where it was imported from.
He said the Madagascar herb is a component for the making of malaria drugs.
He, however, said the process has not made much progress, adding that further research would be carried out on the plant to check its effectiveness in treating COVID-19.
“Preliminary results of the analysis of the so-called Madagascar herbs or organics done by the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) shows that it is the same as the plant called Artemisia anua, which is grown in the NIPRD farm in Abuja,” he said.
“Further research on its efficacy will be conducted when the grants for the research are approved.
“The so-called Madagascar herb is one component of the malaria treatment medicine.
“Some years ago, the government imported this plant and has a plantation of it in trying to develop its 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-malarial, and the type we have here has a very high yield of artemisinin, which is the active ingredient.
“The species we have here have been tested and they have a very high concentration of artemisinin. To see whether it works against the coronavirus disease is what further research will have to bring.”