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Skepticism over Indian godman's claims of Covid-19 cure

Widespread criticism greets Swami Ramdev's claim that his medicine has a 100 percent success rate

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Skepticism over Indian godman's claims of Covid-19 cure

Yoga guru Baba Ramdev speaks on a television program in New Delhi on Sept. 16, 2018. (Photo: IANS/UCA News)

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Popular yoga expert turned businessmen Swami Ramdev has claimed that his Patanjali Ayurved company has successfully produced a medicine named Coronil that can cure Covid-19.

“It has a 100 percent success rate,” said Swami Ramdev, better known as Baba Ramdev, during the launch of the product at a press conference at Patanjali's headquarters in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, on June 23.

“Baba Ramdev is claiming to have found a medicine to treat Covid-19 but it is not clinically proven,” Father Julius Amla, secretary for the Indian Catholic Bishops’ Conference’s office of health, told UCA News.

“When the entire world is fighting the pandemic and trying to find a vaccine for the disease, some people may claim to have come up with a medicine that can cure the disease, but people must be alert because they can be misled and given false hope.

“People are in a panic and desperately looking for a cure, so some people can exploit that. It is better we wait until we have the solution to this life-threatening disease.”

Ramdev said the research was done by a joint team of Patanjali Research Institute and the National Institute of Medical Sciences in Jaipur.

“The medicine kit will include Coronil, Shwasari and Anu Tel and will be available on the market soon,” Ramdev said without giving the exact date of sale.

Shripad Naik, who heads the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (Ayush), said it is good that Ramdev has given the new medicine to the country but it needs clearance from his ministry.

He said anyone is free to make a medicine but they have to send details of the research to the ministry for confirmation. Patanjali has been told to stop advertising until the research is confirmed by the ministry.

After Patanjali's publicised launch, the Ayush ministry asked for details of the Coronil cure kit and the trials it claimed to have conducted.

The state government of Uttarakhand, where Patanjali Ayurved is based, told ANI news agency that Ramdev did not mention his company was developing a drug for the coronavirus when it applied for a license.

The state government sought clarification over its claim of having developed a cure for Covid-19 and asked it to stop advertising the product until the claim is verified.

“We only approved the license for an immunity booster, cough and fever,” a licensing officer of the state’s Ayurveda department was quoted as saying by ANI.

However, the official said the government will issue a notice asking how they got permission to make the kit.

Meanwhile, Ramdev claimed they conducted the study on 95 patients and within three days 69 percent had recovered and within seven days 100 percent tested negative.

He also said during the launch that the medicine had cleared clinical trials in several cities. However, the company did not release any clinical testing data.

“It is still to be confirmed if Baba Ramdev's Coronil has conformed to the norms required such as protocols and clinical trials,”  Joseph Dias, founder of the Mumbai-based Catholic Secular Forum, told UCA News.

“Unless it is approved and tested widely among Covid-positive cases, it is not correct to say a cure has been found. In the age of modern medicine, even developed countries and multinational companies who have been researching have not found a cure yet. Hence, Baba Ramdev's Coronil is bound to be viewed suspiciously as fake,” the priest said.

Patient details, Covid stage, sample size, whether patients were properly tested and monitored and whether other medications were taken are just a few concerns awaiting clarification.

“Unless all details regarding Coronil are made public and subject to open critical scrutiny, Baba Ramdev will be seen to be trying to make a fast buck, taking advantage of the pandemic conditions,” Dias added.

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