The difference between developing medicines for COVID-19 pandemic in Sri Lanka and the developed countries is that Sri Lanka fist allows the distribution of medicines and then go for researches on them and the developed countries do the other way around.
The vaccine jointly developed by the American multinational pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and the German biotechnological company BioNTech SE was researched in laboratories for months and clinically tested on more than 44,000 volunteers before the approval for the vaccine was granted by the USA’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on December 11. A few days ago, Britain also had started immunization of its citizens with Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Here, in Sri Lanka some media outlets first certify the efficacy of the medicines which are meant for the treatment of patients infected with the deadly COVID-19 and then the Health Minister takes a dose before television cameras to promote and encourage the people to consume the medicine while allowing mass distribution of the potion prior to the authorities take action to conduct researches on the medicine.
Also another minister provides machinery for the mass production of the medicine before the researchers hand over their report to the authorities. TV channels showed the syrup producer, Dhammika Bandara of Hettimulla in Kegalla and several others operating the machine without adhering to the current health guidelines, apparently to prove the power of the syrup.
Earlier Dhammika Bandara had claimed that his product was tested on the patients at the Wathupitiwala COVID-19 Treatment Centre by the doctors of that centre and the PCR tests conducted subsequently had proven that the syrup had removed the virus from their bodies.
However, the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) on Sunday had requested the people not to rely on the syrup, as it had not been officially tested at the Wathupitiwala hospital. Further Bandara claimed, according to a Sinhala newspaper, that he developed the potion using a mystic power which he possesses.
Another person, who claims that he too has produced a medicine using a “wattoruwa” (Formula) dated back to King Rawana’s period to cure COVID-19 and told media that he was even prepared to sleep with a coronavirus-infected patient to prove the efficacy of his medicine.
One cannot demean Ayurveda or indigenous medicines with which the Western medicine cannot compete in some areas. The famous Horiwila Weda Mahattaya was a best case in point. Therefore, any local attempt to find a cure for the pandemic must be encouraged.
Even the State sponsorship to such attempts can be accepted, if such sponsorship is given on the recommendation of a competent State medical institution. Yet, the promotion of a medicine, especially by the State, before the efficacy of it is scientifically proven and the official nod of a competent body is given is unacceptable and dangerous.
It is unfortunate that certain media outlets had reported the production of the so-called potion in a promoting manner. Authorities are desperate in facing the current situation and people are exhausted with the restrictions imposed on them in order to contain the pandemic.
They would hang on to any hope given by the media and the authorities. Hence, an unfounded confidence on a medicine among the people might discourage the people from adhering to health guidelines announced by the authorities in the light of the outbreak of the deadly COVID-19. The consequences would be disastrous.