NEW DELHI – A body of some 350,000 doctors in India sought on Monday a government response over a controversial yoga guru’s “blatant lie” that the World Health Organization had certified a traditional medicine that he claims to be effective in treating COVID-19.
Billionaire yogi Baba Ramdev, the co-founder of medicine-and-consumer-goods company Patanjali Ayurved, made the claim on Friday in the presence of federal Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari.
“Indian Medical Association (IMA) is shocked to note the blatant lie of WHO certification for a secret medicine launched by an entrepreneur in the presence of the health minister,” the medical body said in a statement.
Ramdev had claimed that the Divya Coronil is the first evidence-based medicine for COVID-19 that can be used for prevention, treatment as well as post-COVID phase treatment.
The guru said the medicine has been certified by India’s top drug regulator and the WHO to be sold over 150 countries.
“Coronil has received the Certificate of Pharmaceutical Product (CoPP) from the Ayush section of Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation as per the WHO certification scheme,” Patanjali said.
However, the public health agency of the United Nations quickly clarified in a tweet that it had not reviewed or certified the effectiveness of any traditional medicine for the treatment COVID-19.
Acharya Balkrishna, the Patanjali head, later clarified that the certificate to coronil was issued by Drugs Controller General of India.
“It is clear that WHO does not approve or disapprove any drugs. WHO works for building a better, healthier future for people all over the world,” Balkrishna said.
The medical association alleged that it was “proved beyond doubt to the entire country how false the projections are about the said anti-corona ayurvedic medicine.”
The IMA statement lamented that all that was happening in the presence of Health Minister Vardhan, “who is a modern medical doctor by qualification.”
By doing so, IMA said, the minister had breached the code of ethics of the medical profession.
“How justified is it to release such falsely fabricated, unscientific product to people (…) how ethical is it to promote the product in unethical, wrong and false ways to the whole country,” it said.
The Patanjali product was originally launched in June 2020 when its makers first claimed that it was a cure for COVID-19.
But the federal government had then approved it as an immunity booster in an absence of medical research that could support the claims of the manufacturer.