In May 2020, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, hailed the use of remdesivir in NHS treatment of patients with COVID-19.
Although this is a welcome development, more effective drugs still need to be developed, because — apart from the minimal effectiveness of remdesivir — per treatment, it is very expensive.
It is concerning that for all of the ongoing clinical trials against COVID-19, listed in ‘Everything you need to know about the COVID-19 therapy trials’, none of the treatments are plant-based remedies. But pharmacognosy is worth exploring.
Andry Rajoelina, president of Madagascar, has claimed that use of a plant-based remedy called Covid-Organics — made from the plant Artemisia annua — can both prevent and cure COVID-19. However, the World Health Organization advised against “adopting a product that has not been taken through tests to see its efficacy”.
Compounds artemisinin and artemether can be derived from Artemisia annua, and offer safe and effective treatment for malaria; perhaps the benefits of these drugs could be explored in the treatment of COVID-19.
Victoria Akomolafe, hospital and community pharmacist, Essex