German scientists testing artemisia plant used by Madagascar against Covid-19

Since the Coronavirus pandemic broke out, Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina has been touting a local herbal remedy produced from the artemisia plant.

The tonic called Covid-Organics produced from the plant has gained global attention due to the rush for it among African countries.

The artemisia plant is the source of an ingredient used in a malaria treatment and other Malagasy plants.

Researchers at Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam are now reportedly working with researchers from Berlin’s Free University and other institutions on the said plant.

They are testing whether Artemisia annua plant extract and its artemisinin derivatives, could be used to fight the novel coronavirus.

“We extracted pure substances from the Artemisia plant and combined it with the virus,” explained Peter Seeberger from the Max Planck Institute, who is co-head of the study along with the chemist Kerry Gilmore.

DW reports that the study is yet to be peer-reviewed though.

“Since I work with combinations of Artemisia plants, I am very familiar with the interesting activities of plants that can work against different diseases, including a whole series of viruses,” said Seeberger.

Seeberger was reported by DW as saying that it made sense to him and his colleagues to look into the possible effects on Sars-CoV-2.

Anti-viral activity in plant

Meanwhile researchers are said to have found that the leaves of Artemisia extract showed anti-viral activity after being extracted with pure ethanol or distilled water.

The anti-viral activity increased considerably when the ethanol extract was combined with coffee.

“I was surprised that Artemisia extracts worked much better as a derivative, and that adding coffee increased the anti-viral activity,” said Klaus Osterrieder, professor of virology at the Free University.

Other countries are also reportedly willing to carryout such trials on the efficacy of the plant to cure Covid-19

Madagascar which has been at the fore front of promoting this plant had announced it would launch a clinical trial towards possible forms of injections from the remedy.

But the country has said it is undecided on such clinical trials for a vaccine.

In May the World Health Organization was reported to be considering signing a confidentiality clause with Madagascar on the formulation of its herbal remedy for coronavirus.

The WHO had for long criticized Madagascar for promoting the herbal remedy and distributing it to African countries.

According to the WHO using the herbal drug without enough scientific evidence of its efficacy can harm people.

Madagascar’s President, Andry Rajoelina has already urged farmers in his country to grow more of the artemisia plant.


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