Namibia: Herbal Remedies in the Vaccine Disinformation Wars


THE catastrophic upsurge in Covid-19 infections, hospitalisations and deaths in India since March has seen a resurgence in disinformation on traditional medicines via social and other media.

While much of the disinformation is about the effectiveness of traditional Indian remedies in treating Covid-19, African traditional remedies have also been pushed as alternatives to Covid-19 vaccines.

One organisation, that has been vocal in spreading anti-vaccine messages across the continent is the Confederation of Traditional Medicine Practitioners Associations of West Africa (Camtao).

Making use of social media and a newsletter spammed through mailing lists with contacts across the continent, Camtao has been making anti-vaccine statements and championing traditional African remedies as viable alternatives to Covid-19 vaccines.

In its latest newsletter, for April 2021, Camtao makes dubious claims about scientific processes involving traditional medicines:

“In India, where 700 000 homeopathic doctors practice; the journal Express Pharma published a study by the Biogetica Laboratory. This was a clinical trial involving 100 coronavirus patients to validate the effectiveness of seven herbal remedies from Traditional Ayurvedic Medicine.

“In the herbal cohort, 100% of patients had no trace of the virus after 10 days, compared to 88% in those treated with modern drugs. “In the Republic of Guinea, the Institute for Research and Valorisation of Medicinal Plants, reported the results of clinical trials on the phytomedicine ACAR which was used to treat Covid-19 patients.

“At the end of a randomised study, 70% of the patients were free of Covid-19 symptoms,” the newsletter claimed.

On the anti-vaccine front, the newsletter states: “Here we are, entangled in a most dismal vaccine hostel to hatch a virus with a gestation period which has lasted for more than a year defies science (sic), unless this pathogen is maintained by its perpetual culture in the laboratory to continue to earn a staggering jackpot to vaccine makers (sic).

However, it’s not just groups like Camtao that have been spreading false hope and anti-vaccine posts as many people, including Namibians, continue sharing herbal treatment remedies and recipes in WhatsApp and social media groups.

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY

Global health authorities maintain that traditional or herbal remedies are not proven treatments for Covid-19 or alternatives for Covid-19 vaccines.