Friday, 5 June 2020

UZ BEGINS COVID-19 CLINICAL TRIALS


THE University of Zimbabwe (UZ) has developed a range of medical products using a local herb with antiviral properties, currently on clinical trials, to assist in the fight against the deadly coronavirus (Covid-19), the Daily News reports. 

This comes as a concoction known as Covid Organics (CVO), a form of herbal tea made from the Artemisia annua plant, is reportedly curing Covid-19 patients in Madagascar and has been exported to various African countries, including Tanzania, Nigeria, Senegal and Chad.

In an interview with the Daily News on Wednesday, UZ’s Pharmacy Department associate professor Lameck Chagonda said through the support of the Higher and Tertiary Education and Health ministries, the university had developed a range of products from the Artemisia afra herb, locally known as zumbani.

“The zumbani or Artemisia afra is known to be able to treat hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular related diseases, inflammation, coughs, cancer, and to have anti-viral properties. There is a lot of literature to demonstrate that it has those capabilities. 

“So, in line with our heritage-based traditional use of local herbs and education 5.0, we have engaged the university and other authorities in trying to come up with guidelines for the study of traditional medicines in Zimbabwe,” Chagonda said. 

“Here we have a process that we have carried out to add value to the traditional herb so that we can use it in fighting the coronavirus. With this plant, we have produced an oil which can be used as cough mixture and grounded powder which can be used in tea. We also made an anti-viral cream so that when Covid-19 is on your hands or body you just cream up. 

“We have also put it in soap so that when people wash their hands the residue which remains on the body is also anti-viral, and we have made a spray which you can spray into your mouth and sanitise the mouth and tablets. Through the ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education and the ministry of Health we have put the products on clinical trials so that we can grow the herb at a large scale,” Chagonda added. 

UZ vice chancellor Paul Mapfumo said the university would soon announce new programmes in line with promoting research, industrialisation and innovation. 

“The new programmes will cover science, engineering, health, humanities and critical areas of agriculture as well as construction, mining and industrial development. These programmes are now driven by the strategy which we have developed as a university,” Mapfumo said. 

Meanwhile, Health minister Obadiah Moyo told the parliamentary committee on Health recently that his ministry in partnership with local universities would soon share its findings on how herbal medicine can assist in the fight against Covid-19. Daily News

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