Unproven Tonic May Spur Malaria Resistance

The rising popularity of an unproven COVID-19 remedy in Africa is also raising concern about malaria drug resistance.

Developed in Madagascar, the tonic’s main ingredient—Artemisia annua—is the foundation of artemisinin-based combination therapies, the go-to treatment for malaria.

WHO has warned that using artemisinin on its own could spur drug resistance.

The tonic’s manufacturers claim it has cured 2 patients of the virus—and several countries are ordering it. The African Union has asked its makers to share data backing up its efficacy.

Even if it does work, there are major ethical considerations about whether the COVID-19 therapy would undercut a crucial antimalarial treatment.

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