By Kenneth Matimaire
Africa University (AU) says it is in the final stages of developing a Covid-19 remedy using a Zimbabwean traditional herb known as Zumbani.
Zumbani gained prominence last year after some Zimbabweans started using it as remedy for Covid-19 symptoms.
AU’s College of Health and Agricultural Sciences early this year announced that it had developed prototype throat lozenges made up of six ingredients, chief among them being the Zumbani herbal plant.
Initially, the university had said the lozenges would be available on the market by March this year, but the authorities this week said they were in the “final processes” of producing the remedy.
“Our team is still deeply engaged with the implementation of this project,” said Stephene Chikozho, AU’s director of advancement and public affairs.
Chikozho said AU had temporarily deferred liaison on the project to “allow the final processes to go through.”
In Zimbabwe, all developed medicines are mandated to undergo clinical trials for safety, quality, and efficacy at the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ), before they are approved for commercial production.
The trials are conducted by MCAZ’s pharmacovigilance and clinical trials division.
MCAZ said while it was aware of the project, AU was yet to formally apply for permission to conduct clinical trials.
“The authority is aware of reports in the media regarding the prototype Zumbani lozenges,” MCAZ projects and public relations officer, Shingai Gwatidzo, said.
“However, an application for consideration for approval to conduct clinical trials has not been received yet.”
Gwatidzo said MCAZ was ready to review the project once the university had submitted the necessary technical documentation.
“Once the researchers are ready to have the product subjected to some sort of clinical trials, the authority stands ready to review the accompanying technical documentation, so as to ensure it meets the minimum requirements/standards for safety, quality, and efficacy,” he said.
There is currently no known treatment for Covid-19.
Zimbabweans have been using home remedies such as Zumbani, garlic, ginger, lemons and steaming to treat or prevent Covid-19 infections, but experts say there is no evidence that they work.
Research shows that high doses and prolonged use of Zumbani, which is scientifically known as triterpenoids in Lippiajavanicacan cause liver damage.
In its preliminary research, AU gathered that Zumbani is toxic if consumed in high dosages.