Yoga guru Baba Ramdev speaks on a TV program in New Delhi in September 2018. (Photo: IANS/UCA News)
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) and experts have criticized the federal health minister for endorsing yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s relaunched Covid-19 medicine.
Swami Ramdev’s Coronil was relaunched on Feb. 19 amid claims that it can treat the global pandemic despite not having been clinically tested.
In a Feb. 20 statement, the IMA said that the false and fabricated projection of Coronil made in the presence of Health Minister Harsh Vardhan was "an insult to the whole nation."
“India’s government is already using its clinically approved Covaxin and many people have been given the vaccination,” Father Julius Amla, secretary of the Indian bishops’ office of health, told UCA News.
“The medicine was well tested and went through trials, so there is a guarantee from the federal government that it is safe, but not in the case of Ramdev’s medicine, which has no proof.”
Father Amla said there is no documentation that Ramdev’s medicine is fit to be used.
“There are several like Ramdev who claim to have a Covid-19 medicine,” he said.
“Ramdev even claimed to have a Covid-19 medicine last year, but what happened to that? It was later rejected by the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy [Ayush Ministry].”
Last July, long before vaccines were yet to reach final trials, Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved drug company claimed Coronil could provide strong protection against the coronavirus.
Later, the Ayush Ministry said Coronil could be sold only as an immunity booster and not as a cure.
Ramdev had claimed in July that research on his medicine was done by a joint team of the Patanjali Research Institute and the National Institute of Medical Sciences in Jaipur.
Meanwhile, the IMA questioned Vardhan’s ethics as a physician and health minister for making an appearance at the grand launch on Feb. 19 held by Ramdev’s drug firm.
The IMA mentioned a clause in the National Medical Commission’s rules that prohibits a physician from promoting a drug.
Ramdev had claimed that his ayurvedic (traditional Hindu) medicine had received certification from the World Health Organisation (WHO), which was later denied by the UN body in an official tweet.
During the relaunch of Coronil, Ramdev said his medicine had received a Certificate of Pharmaceutical Product from the Ayush section of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation as per the WHO certification scheme.
However, WHO Southeast Asia tweeted: "WHO has not reviewed or certified the effectiveness of any traditional medicine for the treatment of Covid-19."
Meanwhile, after the controversy arose, Acharya Balkrishna, co-founder of Coronil, issued a clarification on Twitter and said that "WHO does not approve or disapprove of any drugs. Instead, it works for building a better and healthier future for people all over the world."
Father Paul Parathazham, director of St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, told UCA News that “it is obvious that we should not go with anybody who claims to have a vaccination for this world pandemic because it is very risky and could have life-threatening effects.”
People should wait for medicines that have had clinical trials and have been approved by the government, he said.
Meanwhile, India is using the Covid-19 vaccine Covishield, the local name for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine developed in the UK, and Covaxin, made in India by pharma company Bharat Biotech and approved by the federal drug regulator.