As the world continues to grapples with the Coronavirus pandemic, various countries are in a race against time to find a cure. It has emerged Botswana is the latest country to engage its experts to research how to stop the virus in its tracks. Last week, the University of Botswana (UB) Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Norris said in an interview with The Botswana Gazette that his team of scientists were expediting efforts to find a cure locally.
“But we are still very far,” Professor Norris cautioned. “We still have to do more research. We need to follow all health protocols and make sure that the cure does not have any negative effects on people.”
Professor Norris noted that one of their biggest challenges was the absence of subjects on whom to test potential cures on.
“These cures need to be tested on subjects that have the virus for us to observe how the body reacts,” he pointed out.
“You would find that some cures do indeed kill the virus but affect the liver. Over the past few days, we have had more than 10 people coming forward saying they have traditional herbs that could cure this virus, but thorough research has to be conducted.”
Professor Norris noted UB’s determination to find a cure, saying Botswana would not sit idly and look to Western countries to find a cure.
“We do have the capacity and expertise as a country to find the cure ourselves,” Dr Norris (PhD) asserted.
“Even if any of the western countries found a cure today, it would take two years for it to reach Botswana.”
Lead Researcher, Professor Daniel Motlhanka also told The Botswana Gazette that while his team is currently testing several medicinal plants, funding remained their biggest challenge.
“We are currently putting up a proposal that we will be submitting to the Botswana Innovation Hub for funding,” explained Professor Motlhanka.
Lippia Javanica (Mosukujwane) is one of the plants that the team is looking into. Artemisia, a popular medicinal plant in southern and East Africa, is yet another. The plant is believed to have the potential to cure and prevent Coronavirus. Its leaves are used to make herbal tea as well as to treat coughs, colds, fever, loss of appetite and headaches.
The President of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina recently launched his country’s local herbal remedy, which the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research (IMRA) explained is derived from Artemisia. The Zimbabwean government recently authorised traditional herbalists to treat Coronavirus patients. Meantime, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has said there is no scientific evidence that any of these alternative remedies can prevent or cure the illness caused by COVID-19. Some of them may not be safe to consume, it asserts.