ANTANANARIVO – As their high school reopened after being closed for a month due to the coronavirus, students in Madagascar's capital city were given face masks and a small bottle of an herbal extract they were told to drink to protect them from COVID-19.
Many grimacing at its bitter taste, the students swallowed the drink and entered school to resume classes, where they were now seated one to a desk instead of two, for safer distance.
Madagascar's President Andry Rajoelina promoted the drink, Covid Organics, on national television saying it will "change the course of history.”
There are no approved drugs for COVID-19 and numerous treatments and vaccines are currently being tested around the world.
Madagascar, an Indian Ocean island nation of 26 million people, currently has 128 recorded cases of Covid-19 and no deaths.
The herbal drink has not been scientifically tested and there’s no proof it works against COVID-19. But the president is enthusiastically promoting it.
“What we want to do today is to popularize this drink to protect our population,” said Rajoelina on television and then drank a bottle of the concoction.
The drink is being distributed for free in some schools that are reopening and in poor neighborhoods. Elsewhere it is being sold for about 30 cents for an 11-ounce bottle.