For thousands of years,humans have used medicinal plants, mineral and animal derivatives to prevent invading foreign agents, and to alleviate physical as well as mental illnesses based on the beliefs and experience of indigenous cultures of a given society, otherwise known as traditional medicines. But science has always been regarded to provide superior solution to health challenges. However, Covid-19 pandemic has brought the two medical therapies to shoulder the challenge in the race to finding the fastest remedy to Covid-19.
With increasing number of COVID-19 cases surpassing the 3 million mark globally, the race for a vaccine becomes more desperate. Ordinarily, a vaccine, according to experts, usually takes an average of about 10 years before it can be certified for use on humans. But the world has no such luxury at this time. Different countries are in the race to speedily develop a vaccine against the coronavirus. The question is: how long before we can have the vaccine?
Although many experts are predicting up to twenty four months at the earliest, Bill Gates said it could take eighteen months for the vaccine to be made available. This argument was supported by Maria Bottazzi, a vaccine design expert of Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, who said anything less than 12-18 months; is ‘unrealistic’. But other vaccine experts believe we can have it much earlier.
In the last couple of weeks, there are more than 90 different vaccines currently being developed across the world. About six of these groups have already commenced human testing of these vaccines. Sinovac Biotech in Beijing, Oxford University, and German company BioNTech working with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, among others, have all begun clinical trial. A number of others are either in early stages or are conducting trials on animals.
Despite the record-breaking pace at which the vaccines are being produced, some scientists are concerned about the potential medical risks of not having adequate tests and feedbacks before mass producing the vaccine.
In the last one week, there has been emerging information about possible breakthrough in using medical remedies to treat the COVID-19. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has stated that Remdesivir has shown promise of being effective in treating COVID-19 saying it “has a clear-cut, significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery”. WHO also promotes Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine in treatment of COVID-19 as potential therapies. Blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors is also an alternative which some countries have started using.
While waiting for the vaccines and drugs from major countries like India, UK, US, Germany, China and other countries, one wonders if Africa would look inward and produce some African remedies rather than wait for the Western world to proffer solution.
As the Covid19 pandemic continues to ravage the world and no cure seems to be in sight, Africa countries have been looking inwardly to develop traditional remedies by using plants and natural products which they claim have proven fruitful and productive.
Top on the African remedies is the invention of COVID Organics, produced by the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research in Madagascar which the president has made mandatory to its citizen as a preventive measure and cure for Covid-19.
In Nigeria, a prominent king of the Yoruba people, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi in partnership with a pharmaceutical company has begun the mass production of an herbal medication which he believes has the potential to cure covid-19. According to him, “The concoction is based on a mix of bitter leaves, neem leaves and seeds, sulfur, black pepper and cloves that are traditionally used in Yorùbáland as powerful antioxidants to flush the system of harmful viruses”.
Raeburn Fairweather, a respiratory therapist at Brooklyn’s Maimonides Medical Center, USA, looked to his Jamaican roots to find what turned out to be an effective treatment for his case of coronavirus. The New York Post reported, “He treated himself with traditional Caribbean home remedies made with turmeric, garlic and ginger”.
Recently, the Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde who tested positive and was treated of coronavirus said “I consumed carrots, Vitamin C, Blackseed Oil with honey to fight coronavirus”.
Also, a group of Nigerian Catholic priest recently claimed that they have also developed a cure for covid19, called Pax CVD PLUS. According to the clerics “the Pax CVD PLUS contains herbs and active phytoconstituents with documented scientific evidence based on clinical reports of their efficacy and safety”.
With no approved drugs for COVID-19, many Africans around the world are now resorting to therapies. The traditional ingredient that have been identified includes: lemon, lime, garlic, turmeric, black seed oil, honey, bitter leaf, neem leaves and seeds, sulfur, black pepper and cloves. However, many medical scientists have continued to suggest that rigorous clinical and scientific testing of herbal and other traditional remedies is necessary.
Although the U.S. National Institutes of Health has warned against alternative medicine including certain herbal therapies and teas for treating or preventing COVID-19, saying there was no evidence they work and some may be unsafe. But African experts will respond to that concern by referring to WHO previous pronouncement that 80% of the world population is dependent on traditional medicines for treatment of ailments.