Ramdev Launches Coronil for COVID, But Critical Questions Remain
Patanjali claims to have found a cure for coronavirus, but ICMR and the Ayush Ministry have not verified the claim.
As the medical world works tirelessly towards a vaccine for COVID-19, Patanjali has released a drug that claims a “100 percent recovery rate.”
On Tuesday, 23 June, Ramdev’s Patanjali launched the ayurvedic drug ‘Coronil and Swasari’ as the first ayurvedic treatment to the virus. They claimed that after clinical trials with patients infected with coronavirus, they can ascertain that this drug works to 100 percent treat the virus in 3-14 days, reported LiveMint.
In a statement put out the same day, the Ministry of Ayush said, “Facts of the claim and details of the stated scientific study are not known to the Ministry.” It has also asked the company to share information and details relating to the medicine and the research undertaken, and to ‘stop advertising/publicizing such claims till the issue is duly examined’.
So far no cure has been made and many ‘immunity-boosting’ medicines have been launched. However, at their launch event in Haridwar, Ramdev claimed,
“This is not an immunity booster but a coronavirus cure.We were working on a coronavirus cure since December 2019.”Baba Ramdev at the launch event.
The first case of coronavirus in India appeared on 30 January, 2020. So far, no other science journal or research body has corroborated Patanjali’s claim of being the “first coronavirus cure.”
Neither the Ayush Ministry or the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have backed Patanjali’s claims. Government notifications have a strict ban on companies advertising medicinal products and cures without government approval.
95 People Tested; Patanjali Claims the Drug Produces Lesser Risk of Cytokine Storm
The drug is manufactured by Haridwar-based Divya Pharmacy and Patanjali Ayurved Ltd, and is the fruit of a research partnership between Patanjali Research Institute and the Jaipur based National Institute of Medical Sciences, reported The Tribune.
At Patanjali’s launch event, they claimed to have tested 100 people infected with the virus for the drug. 4 withdrew consent, and 1 patient's details were lost in the trials and so they effectively tested the drug on 95 people.
“We conducted a clinical case study and clinical controlled trial, and found 69% patients recovered in 3 days & 100% patients recovered in 7 days.”Baba Ramdev
This is a very small sample size to test against a drug, and we have no information as to the nature of the trials - were they randomised? If so, how many trials were conducted? How did the drug reach the clinical stage already? Ramdev added that this was the “first Ayurvedic clinically-controlled trial.”
They did provide some more insight into how patients were selected - although no details of it being randomised were released. No severely critical patients, patients with co-morbidities, patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome or severely symptomatic patients were chosen.
Since most COVID-19 deaths in India and the world are a result of the virus and co-morbidities, it is strange that the drug did not test this important group and yet claim they can treat the virus 100 per cent in everyone infected.
It must also be noted that mild and moderate patients have a higher recovery chance of coronavirus already.
However, Ramdev added that also want to research on “people on ventilators” but the safety of this must be thoroughly investigated first.
Criteria for selection:
- RT-PCR confirmed cases
- Patients aged 15-60
Out of the treatment and placebo group, the one that got the drug showed a weaker Interleukin 6 (IL-6) which acts as a pro-inflammatory cytokine. This means that the group with the Ayurvedic drug would have a lesser risk of a cytokine storm.
This is a common occurrence with coronavirus when the immune response goes into overdrive by an excessive and exorbitant amount of cytokine production.
Cytokines are proteins released by a broad range of cells in the body to trigger an immune response against an antigen. When there is an excess, the ‘localised’ inflammation turns into hyper-inflammation, impacting not just the infected areas, but the rest of the body as well. This unregulated and uncontrolled production of cytokines is known as a ‘cytokine storm’ - as the name suggests.
Patanjali claims that taking their drug has caused patients to test negative for the virus and so the “cure is through Ayurveda.”
However, no medicine has a 100 percent recovery rate on all patients - all medicines can cause some complications and side effects in some patients. Think of the warning labels on some of your go-to medicines - they say to be careful if you have certain health conditions, are below or above a certain age, are pregnant etc.
Until data from the trials is not released, and peer-review data is not sought, it is difficult to independently verify claims. They will be releasing all evidence and research in the next 4-5 days.
Patanjali Launches ‘Corona Medicine Kit’
Acharya Balkrishna, MD of Patanjali Ayurved, said that the medicine is made with natural drugs and herbs like any other Ayurvedic medicine. Coronil has the extracts of pure Giloy, Tulsi and Ashwagandha. They are planning to launch an app for e-commerce to facilitate the easy home delivery of the medicine.
According to Patanjali, they are planning on selling the tablet in their stores in a week. This, without the release of all research, and without the backing of research bodies like ICMR or the Ayush Ministry - or any other scientific body or journal.
It must be noted that any medicine, especially ones for coronavirus, must be taken after consulting a medical expert.
They are also launching a corona medicine kit - consisting of the three medicines - Coronil, Shwasari and Anu Tel - as a preventative for the medicine - but any prophylactic must be taken only after more studies have been done on their safety and after a doctor’s recommendation. The kit is available for Rs 545, however, not many details were revealed about the regulation and safety of this drug.
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