Why medics can’t administer Covidex for COVID-19 patients

Uganda approves use of Covidex for supportive treatment of COVID-19
The National Drug Authority (NDA) has finally approved the use of Covidex herbal medicine by the public as a supportive treatment in the management of viral infections

Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Covidex drug is not yet on the list of options health workers can use for treatment, even with recent notification by the National Drug Authority (NDA) that it can be used as a supportive medication for viral infections including COVID-19.

There has been a rush by the public to buy, some hoarding the drug after several testimonies that critically ill people in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) got better after using it. The cost of the drug which was initially sold at 3,000 Shillings suddenly went up to 80,000 Shillings as demand for it soared.

But Prof Pauline Byakika, a member of the Scientific committee of the National COVID-19 taskforce says the drug is only a supplement and can only be recommended for use as a treatment once clinical trials have been completed. She said clinical trials on the drug are only about to start and only the outcome of this process will offer the highest level of evidence to ascertain claims that it can treat and prevent symptoms of the disease.

But Dr Peter Agaba, an anesthesiologist at Mulago National Referral Hospital says it’s unlikely that they will start using the drug in their ICU soon.

Uganda approves use of Covidex for supportive treatment of COVID-19
Covidex is a herbal medicine developed by Mbarara University scientist, Prof Patrick Ogwang, and manufactured by Jena Herbals Uganda

He explains that critically ill patients’ treatments involve a cocktail of medicines for which they cannot guarantee the outcomes once mixed with Covidex.

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He urges medics to go slow on the drug (to administer Covidex) saying it’s not in the realm of sound medicine.

Meanwhile, when contacted about the same, the World Health Organization (WHO) Uganda country representative Dr Tegnen Woldermariam said the organization had not yet received any information about the product. The organization warns that many plants and substances are being proposed without the minimum requirements and evidence of quality, safety and efficacy.

“The use of products to treat COVID-19, which have not been robustly investigated can put people in danger, giving a false sense of security and distracting them from handwashing and physical distancing which are cardinal in COVID-19 prevention, and may also increase self-medication and the risk to patient safety.”