COVID-19, or coronavirus disease, is a contagious illness. A newly discovered coronavirus causes it. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses causing a wide range of illnesses. They can range from the common cold to more severe ones like MERS-COV and SARS-COV. This new strain of coronavirus was first observed in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It then spread globally and the WHO classified it as a pandemic. As of now, there are no reported effective-proven cures. But, there are on-going treatment procedures over the world. International and national health organizations have also released prevention methods.
Unproven claims of cures and vaccines around the world
Italian firm Takis biotechs were first to claim to have created a successful COVID-19 vaccine in April 2020. It generates antibodies in mice that neutralize SARS-COV in human cells.
Oxford University co-developed an experimental vaccine with a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca. They named it ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. They started its final stage of clinical trials in South Africa vaccine in June. It uses a weakened strain of a common cold virus called adenovirus.
In May, Israeli defence minister Naftali Bennett announced that their Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) has made a breakthrough. It developed a monoclonal antibody, which neutralizes the novel coronavirus.
Countries have also started convalescent plasma therapy for treatment. It involves transfusion of plasma from people who have recovered from the virus to high-risk coronavirus patients. It helps kick-start the passive immunity in the patient. Moreover this could help those whose bodies aren’t producing enough antibodies to curb the disease. Union Health Ministry has allowed its use for treatment. But, it has also said that their use is currently based on limited evidence.
Hydroxychloroquine has shown antiviral properties against SARS-COV-2 through in-vitro studies. It treats malaria. Brazilian and American Presidents Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump have promoted it. There have been studies from China, France, and the USA testing the drug. They have both proven effectiveness and ineffectiveness of this drug.
Remdesivir is a broad-spectrum antiviral treatment developed by Gilead Sciences Inc. It has shown promise in animal models for treating SARS-COV-2 infection. Remdesivir has been examined in various clinical trials. The National Institute of Health of USA conducted a randomized, controlled trial. They found that advanced COVID-19 patients who got remdesivir recovered faster than patients who got placebos. A Chinese trial found that remdesivir did not improve the condition of serious COVID-19 patients compared to placebos.
Pfizer and BioNtech (USA pharmaceutical companies) have partnered up. They are running the clinical trials of their BNT162 vaccine (an RNA vaccine) program.
Dexamethasone is an inexpensive and used steroid. The Union Health Ministry included it in the treatment protocol for COVID-19 patients for moderate to severe stages of illness by June 27.
Patanjali’s COVID cure claims and AYUSH Ministry response
On June 23, 2020, Patanjali launched ‘Coronil and Swasari’. They marketed it as a cure for the treatment of COVID-19. Patanjali claimed to have had 100 percent favourable results in the clinical trials on affected patients. The Haridwar-based Patanjali Research Institute and the National Institute of Medical Sciences, Jaipur conducted the trials.
The Union Ministry of AYUSH ordered Patanjali to provide them with a list. It was to contain the name and composition of all the medicines in this kit, as well as the studies it conducted. Until the ministry verified these, it forbade Patanjali from advertising these claims.
Patanjali made its reply to the AYUSH ministry public. It included the composition of medicines; IEC clearance and CTRI registration; and protocol sample size and result data of the study.
Legal Action Against Coronil
The Rajasthan Health Department sent a notice to NIMS Jaipur. It sought explanation for conducting Patanjali’s Coronil clinical trials on COVID-positive patients. NIMS did not ask the state government’s permission or inform them.
On June 27, an FIR was filed in Jaipur’s Jyoti Nagar Police Station against Ramdev, Patanjali Ayurved MD Acharya Balkrishna, scientist Anurag Varshney, NIMS Chairman Dr. Balbir Singh Tomar and Director Dr Anurag Tomar. It charged them under section 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code (among others). The FIR was filed for allegedly indulging in the misleading publication of “Coronil”. It was publicised as medicine which could be used to treat the COVID.
Paranoia and fear related to COVID-19 are very high at the moment. This is adding to the desperation of the public. It is making it easier for unproven claims of miracle cures and antidotes get popular. People are rushing in to use desperate means without official backing. This is only worsening the situation.
Humanity is going through such a difficult time together. It is more important to be aware of our surroundings. Trusting people or things without proper evidence is not advisable.
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