Yoga teacher Ramdev’s claims on Patanjali’s Coronil as the “first evidence-based medicine for COVID-19”, made in the presence of Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, has drawn blistering criticism from the Indian Medical Association (IMA). The medical body has questioned how the Health Minister could promote a “falsely fabricated, unscientific product” before the country.
On Friday, Ramdev launched the Patanjali product in the presence of Harsh Vardhan and another Union Minister, Nitin Gadkari. On a big poster behind the three were claims that the “medicine” was CoPP and WHO GMP certified – meaning it holds a certificate of pharmaceutical product (CoPP) and is recognised by the World Health Organisation’s Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). Both these standards approximately define quality assurance in medicinal products.
WHO, however, clarified in a tweet that it had not reviewed or certified any traditional medicine to treat or prevent COVID-19. “@WHO has not reviewed or certified the effectiveness of any traditional medicine for the treatment #COVID19,” WHO South-East Asia tweeted.
IMA said it was shocked to note the “blatant lie” of WHO certification for a “secret medicine” launched in the presence of the Health Minister, who is a doctor as well. The country “needs an explanation” from the minister, it said in a statement.
“Being a Health Minister of the country, how appropriate and rational is it to release such false projections in front of the whole country? Being a Health Minister of the country, how justified is it to release such falsely fabricated unscientific product to people of the whole country? Being a Health Minister of the country, how ethical is it to promote the product in unethical, wrong and false ways to the whole country? Being a Health Minister of the country and a Modern Medicine doctor, how ethical is it to promote the unscientific product to the citizens of the country,” said the medical organization.
The IMA added that “the false and fabricated projection of an unscientific medicine by the Health Minister to the entire country and being rejected by WHO is a slap and insult to the people of country” and blatant deceiving of people.
If Coronil was effective for prevention, why was the government spending Rs 35,000 crores for vaccination, asked the IMA.
Patanjali Ayurved managing director Acharya Balkrishna put out a clarification shortly before the WHO tweet.
“We want to clarify to avoid confusion that our WHO GMP compliant COPP certificate to Coronil is issued by DCGI, Government of India. It is clear that WHO do not approve or disapprove any drugs. WHO works for building a better, healthier future for people all over the world,” Mr Balkrishna tweeted.
Last year, at a time virus cases were on the rise and vaccines were still in trial stages, Patanjali Ayurved had claimed that Coronil could provide strong protection against the coronavirus. After a huge controversy over the claims, the AYUSH Ministry said Coronil can be sold only as an immunity-booster and not as a cure.