The IMA asked the Health Minister to respond, stating that if he does not, “he is inflicting a fraud on the nation and gullible patients by calling placebos as drugs.”

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan wearing a blue kurta and a navy blue vest seen at a press conference in DelhiPTI file image
Coronavirus Coronavirus Friday, October 09, 2020 - 11:08

The Indian Medical Association on Thursday issued a strong statement against the government’s new protocol to include ayurveda and yoga for the prevention of COVID-19 and treatment of asymptomatic patients and patients with mild symptoms. In a strong statement, the IMA questioned the scientific basis of the government's recently released protocol. 

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had on Tuesday released a protocol for the clinical management of COVID-19, that lists dietary measures, yoga and ayurvedic herbs and formulations such as Ashwagandha and AYUSH-64 for prevention of coronavirus infection and treatment of mild and asymptomatic cases.

Questioning the scientific basis of these protocols, the IMA has asked the health minister "to give reproducibility of a claim elsewhere in non-conflict situations and double blind control studies".

A double blind study is a randomized clinical trial in which the person does not know if they are receiving the experimental treatment, a standard treatment or a placebo. Placebo is a substance or treatment which is designed to have no therapeutic value.

“He admits that these are based on empirical evidence which means that the evidence is anecdotal and based on individual subjective experiences,” the statement by the IMA said. 

The IMA asked whether there is satisfactory evidence regarding the claims made from studies done on COVID 19 patients based on the above criteria and whether the evidence is weak or moderate or strong “The evidence should be in public domain and available for scientific scrutiny,” the statement said.

Listing a total of six questions for the Minister to respond to, the IMA also asked "whether the severe form of COVID-19 a hyperimmune status or an immune deficiency status?" The IMA asked the Minister to respond to the questions, stating that if he does not, “he is inflicting a fraud on the nation and gullible patients by calling placebos as drugs.”

"What is stopping him from handing over COVID care and control to the AYUSH ministry? IMA demands that the Union Health Minister should come clean on the above posers. If not, he is inflicting a fraud on the nation and gullible patients by calling placebos as drugs," it added. 

The 'National Clinical Management Protocol based on Ayurveda and Yoga for Management of COVID-19' was released by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan in the virtual presence of Shripad Naik, Minister of State for AYUSH, on Tuesday. 

"This protocol dealing with preventive and prophylactic measures is a significant step not only in management of COVID-19 but also in making traditional knowledge relevant to solving problems of the modern time," Vardhan was quoted as saying in a statement. "Unfortunately, Ayurveda did not receive much attention after independence until Prime Minister Narendra Modi took up this cause with the importance it deserves," he said, while stressing that Ayurveda had a significant impact in the foundations of modern medicine. 

The AYUSH ministry, in the protocol document, had pointed out that the current understanding indicates a good immune system is vital for prevention of coronavirus infection and to safeguard from disease progression. The protocol suggests use of medicines such as Ashwagandha, Guduchi Ghana Vati or Chyawanaprasha as prophylactic care for high risk population and primary contacts of patients.

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