Search Interest In Coronil—A False Covid Cure—Soars In India As Pandemic Rages

As Covid-19 infections continue to rise across India and access to hospital beds and life-saving medicines remains scarce, interest in an unproven cure for the deadly disease, promoted by a popular Hindu spiritual leader and even backed by the country’s Minister of Health, has grown online, as people across the country desperately seek relief from the pandemic.

Google Trends data in India over the past 90 days shows a sharp increase in Google searches for” Coronil, “an herbal concoction that makes the false claim to be the”first evidence-based drug for coronavirus.””

Coronil search trends peaked in mid-April amid an unprecedented increase in Covid-19 cases in India and remain very high as several parts of the country continue to report shortages of various life-saving medicines.

The popularity of Coronil is due to the fact that it was sold by Patanjali Ayurved, founded by the popular yoga guru and Hindu spiritual leader Ramdev.

Patanjali has cited a small study with around 100 young, healthy Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms to support his claims about Coronil’s efficacy in treating the disease, but experts warn that it is difficult to draw real conclusions from such a small trial.

Tests conducted by the University of Birmingham found that Coronil pills contained plant-based ingredients that cannot protect against Covid-19, according to the BBC.

But the AYUSH Ministry of the Indian government, which promotes alternative medicines such as Ayurveda and homeopathy, granted a license to Coronil classifying it as a “supportive treatment” for Covid patients, making Coronil tablets available on Patanjali’s own website, or even on Amazon India, without a prescription.

Launching Coronil in June last year, Ramdev falsely stated: “a 100% recovery from COVID-19 is guaranteed within seven days of drug use.”At the time, the yoga guru had also insisted that Coronil was not an immunity booster, but a cure for coronavirus. None of these claims are supported by any clinical trial.

Ramdev and Patanjali launched Coronil last June, as part of a” Covid Kit “and was polemically touted as a” cure ” for the deadly disease, without offering any scientific evidence. A day after Coronil’s release, the impression reported that Patanjali’s claims of curing Covid were based on provisional results from a study that included only 45 young, healthy patients. The state of Maharastra quickly banned the sale of the substance, and in August Patanjali was fined Rs 13,500 (Rs 1 million) by the Madras High Court for “pursuing profits” by claiming to have a cure for COVID-19. The brew was relaunched in February of this year, now packaged as a” supportive treatment ” for Covid-19. Ramdev then went on television to claim that the World Health Organization (who) had visited the company and “gave Coronil the license that considers it eligible for sale in more than 150 countries.”This announcement was applauded by members of the BJP, India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party, who claimed that the “approval” of the WHO was an endorsement of India’s traditional medicine system, Ayurveda. But the who intervened quickly to clarify that it had not reviewed or certified the effectiveness of any traditional medicine for the treatment of Covid-19. Patanjali’S CEO was forced to clarify that the company had simply received a Good Manufacturing Practice certification from the Indian government in accordance with WHO standards.

TANGENT

The broader controversy surrounding Coronil’s relaunch this year revolved around Dr Harsh Vardhan, India’s Minister of Health and chair of the WHO Executive Committee. At an event, Vardhan said that the Indian Ayurveda industry had seen a 50-90% growth rate during the pandemic and then praised Patanjali for “testing his medicines through processes that were only followed in modern medicine, such as legitimate clinical trials,” although the drug never went through rigorous trials. But Vardhan’s support for Coronil and traditional Indian medicine aligns with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nationalist agenda. After coming to power for the first time in 2014, the Modi government established the Ministry of AYUSH, which has been established to promote the practices of alternative medicine Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani and Homeopathy. AYUSH’s Ministry has faced some rejection from medical circles for promoting questionable treatments for Covid-19, but the government defends the merits of Ayurveda and told India’s Supreme Court that Ayush-certified doctors can prescribe Ayurvedic substances as immunity boosters, but not as cures for Covid.

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