A viral publication, shared more than 37,000 times on Facebook in two days, says that the President of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina, said that the United States and China offered him “millions” to poison the herbal tea remedy produced in Madagascar supposed to cure the new coronavirus. We have found no such evidence in the media or on social media. The Malagasy presidency “formally denied” these remarks.
In recent weeks, many viral publications have lent words to the president of Madagascar Andry Rajoelina.
He would have notably called on African countries to boycott the WHO, or even rejected an offer of 20 million dollars from the international medical institution to “put a little toxic” in the herbal tea Covid-Organics produced in Madagascar and supposed to cure the new coronavirus.
These viral claims, which have been shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook, have been verified by AFP.
Since May 13, a new publication, riddled with spelling mistakes, makes him say that “China and the United States are the real enemies of the African continent”, that these two countries “have offered him many millions to put a little toxic and poison “in the herbal tea Covid-Organics, and also that Bill Gates” to contribute to the spread of this COVID-19 pandemic “(sic).
The publication, which appeared on a page entitled “Afrique World”, had more than 37,000 shares in two days.
False attributed comments
We did not find any trace of these various declarations neither in the media, nor on the social networks where Mr. Rajoelina is however very active.
Contacted on May 14, the presidency of Madagascar denied these remarks.
“The presidency of Madagascar formally denies all these allegations,” said the director of cabinet of the Presidency, Lova Ranoramoro.
“Since the launch of the Covid-Organics remedy, many comments have been falsely attributed to President Andry Rajoelina,” she said.
The Malagasy president launched on April 20 a herbal tea intended to prevent and treat Covid-19, made from artemisia, a plant widely used in Africa used to treat malaria.
This herbal tea called Covid-Organics, produced by the Malagasy Institute for Applied Research (IMRA), is a remedy that is both “preventive and curative against Covid-19”, according to Mr. Rajoelina.
This drink is at the heart of tensions with the World Health Organization, which has multiplied the warnings against this remedy having not been the subject of any clinical test.
There is currently no recognized vaccine or treatment for the new coronavirus, the pandemic of which killed 152,000 people worldwide on May 15.
On social media, the WHO is accused of being the armed wing of the major Western powers and the pharmaceutical industry.
Scientific observations versus clinical trials
Mr. Rajoelina assures the effectiveness of his herbal tea based on “scientific observations”, and highlighting the fact that no death linked to the coronavirus has yet been deplored in Madagascar.
“A marked improvement in the state of health of the patients who received this remedy was observed in only 24 hours after the first dose. The cure was noted after seven days, even ten days. This remedy is natural, non-toxic and non-invasive, “he said on May 11 in an interview with the France Medias Monde group (France 24, RFI).
But for WHO, the efficacy and safety of this remedy for Covid-19 must be evaluated according to the scientific protocols in force.
“Regarding this drug, our position is clear: there has been no test, research is encouraged, but any recommended drug should have been tested and proven to prove its effectiveness and safety, in order that it is not harmful to the population. Which is not the case for this remedy”, Michel Yao, head of emergency operations at WHO Africa, told on April 29.
“Medicinal plants such as artemisia annua are considered as possible treatments for COVID-19, but trials should be carried out to assess their effectiveness and determine their adverse effects”, WHO said in a statement on May 4.
“The problem is that it comes from Africa”
According to Andry Rajoelina, the reservations expressed about his remedy have a political dimension.
“If it was a European country that had discovered this remedy, would there be so many doubts? I do not think so”, he said in his interview of May 11: “The problem is that it comes from Africa. And we cannot accept that a country like Madagascar, which is the 163rd poorest country in the world, has put in place this formula to save the world.”
“In this battle, we want to slow us down. We want to discourage us, even prevent us from moving forward”, he also said.
Mr. Rajoelina notably announced that he had transmitted cargoes of this drink to his “African brothers”. Fifteen countries in West Africa (including Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea) but also Tanzania received samples.