Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh government Monday gave a ‘green signal’ for the distribution of an herbal concoction that has caused a sensation in the state as a potential Covid-19 cure.
The state government has cited reports of the Union AYUSH ministry’s Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) for its decision to approve the herbal mixture. It, however, said the reports did not endorse the concoction, prepared by traditional medicine practitioner Bonigi Anandaiah of Krishnapatnam village in Nellore district, as a cure for Covid-19.
Speaking at a press conference Monday, state AYUSH Commissioner Col V. Ramulu said the herbal mixture cannot be claimed as a cure for Covid but can be consumed by people as a “health supplement or a local traditional health practice”.
“If we keep aside the assessment of what positive impact this medicine will have, since there are no side effects, people who consume the medicine might benefit to some extent at least,” he said. “Keeping this in mind, the state government has given a green signal for distribution of the same.”
Since the herbal concoction has not been identified as an Ayurvedic medicine, the state government will not manufacture it. The government, however, can facilitate the distribution process while Anandaiah will continue to manufacture and distribute it, Ramulu said.
The distribution of the herbal mixture had been stopped after at least 10,000 people gathered at the village for it on 21 May, in violation of Covid norms and protocols.
According to the government, the CCRAS reports have now clarified that there are no side effects and that the herbal medicine is harmless when orally consumed.
But eye drops manufactured by Bonigi Anandaiah, which have been touted as a “miracle cure” that can help shoot up oxygen saturation levels in minutes, have not received any clearance from CCRAS yet, according to a statement from the Andhra Pradesh government.
After an initial assessment by a state AYUSH team, the CCRAS had taken samples of the concoction for further study.
Anandaiah’s herbal mixture has five categories — P, F, L, K and eye drops. The most commonly used are P, F, L doses. According to Anandaiah, P can largely be used as a ‘preventive’, while he prescribed the combination of the other three for Covid positive patients.
Of the lot, the eye drops have not been granted approval for distribution. A full report regarding the effects of eye drops is awaited and it would take another 2-3 weeks, the government said.
“Except the eye drops, the rest of the herbal concoction (P, F, L doses), to be consumed orally, has been given a clearance from experts,” the statement said, citing the CCRAS reports.
“The report said that there are no side effects and it is harmless. However, this does not mean that this herbal concoction will help in curing Covid in any way,” it said. “The reports said that there is no proof that the herbal mixture has helped to cure Covid.”
The state AYUSH team had earlier dismissed the notion that the herbal concoction was an ‘Ayurvedic medicine’ that can cure Covid. The team, however, said the ingredients were Ayurvedic and harmless.
In a 17 May report, an internal committee, set up by the state government, had said that the ‘eye drops’ could be harmful but added that there was no negative feedback on the free oral medicine being distributed.
“We spoke to at least 25 people who consumed the medicine and allegedly recovered, a few of them told us their SPO2 levels were 75 but shot up to 96 after taking those drops. But overall, we are nowhere saying this is a cure for Covid, the ‘medicine’ is not even Ayurveda,” Col V. Ramulu had told ThePrint then.
‘Don’t discontinue prescribed medicines’
While it has approved the distribution of the concoction, the Jagan Mohan Reddy government has appealed to possible consumers who are Covid positive to not discontinue medicines prescribed by doctors.
“People should follow the doctor prescribed medicine and if they wish to take the herbal concoction, they can,” the government statement said.
Keeping in mind that hundreds of Covid positive patients turned up at the village two weeks ago, the government has urged people to not crowd the region.
While stating that families or associated people of Covid positive patients can collect the mixture, the state government has appealed for Covid protocols to be maintained in the distribution of the medicine.
A rage in Andhra Pradesh
Bonigi Anandaiah has become a sensation in Andhra Pradesh and his tiny village of Krishnapatnam shot to overnight fame after his concoction was touted to cure Covid in less than five days.
The ‘eye drops’ that were being given to people with low oxygen saturation levels were allegedly helping in increasing their levels within minutes.
As the word spread, thousands thronged the village on 21 May, with local residents claiming that at least 20,000 people turned up, including Covid positive patients in about 100 ambulances, although the police pegged the number at 10,000.
Following the frenzy and major violation of Covid precautionary protocols, the state government had halted the distribution of the medicine.
When ThePrint visited the village last week, it found that more than 80 per cent of the local people of the village took the herbal medicine and are now saying no to masks and vaccines. The trust is more in the herbal medicine and the local medicine practitioner than the vaccines.
In a village with a population of 5,686 people according to the 2011 census, hardly 200 have been vaccinated up until now. The village has had 41 Covid cases in the second wave and zero deaths in both years.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)
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