May 25, 2020

Russia’s Pushing a Quack COVID Cure All Over Africa
ABUJA, Nigeria—U.S. President Donald Trump is not the only figure threatening the World Health Organization while endorsing dubious Coronavirus treatments. In Africa, news outlets and Social Media posts notorious for spreading Russian-created disinformation and conspiracy theories are leveling all sorts of allegations against the WHO, ranging from incompetence to fraud.At the center of the attacks is what appears to be a coordinated campaign promoting an herbal concoction the Moscow-backed government of Madagascar claims will cure COVID-19. The attacks on the WHO intensified when the agency released a statement on May 4 warning Africans against using untested remedies for treatment of the coronavirus after the Malagasy government began to extoll—and export in large quantities—an untested herbal infusion sometimes bottled like soda that’s called Covid-Organics. The main component for the tonic is artemisia annua, known as sweet wormwood, which has been shown to have some therapeutic value against malaria (PDF).Russians Are Using African Troll Factories—and Encrypted Messaging—to Attack the U.S.The WHO announced its support for traditional medicines if they are “scientifically proven” to be effective, but warned pointedly that "the use of products to treat COVID-19, which have not been robustly investigated can put people in danger, giving a false sense of security and distracting them from hand washing and physical distancing which are cardinal in COVID-19 prevention."The herbal remedy’s biggest booster is Malagasy President Andry Rajoelina, a 45-year-old media entrepreneur elected in 2018 with help from Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose meddling, as detailed by the New York Times, was blatant even by Kremlin standards. (Rajoelina denies getting any assistance.)Covid-Organics has not gone through clinical trials. An aide to Rajoelina told the BBC the tonic was “tried out” on fewer than 20 people over three weeks before it was launched in April—a “test” that does not even begin to meet scientific or medical standards.Rajoelina’s response? He accused the West of condescending behavior toward traditional African therapy, telling French media that the product would have been globally accepted "if it was a European country that had actually discovered this remedy.""[Madagascar] has come up with this formula to save the world," said Rajoelina, who claims the herbal tonic cures COVID-19 patients within 10 days. "No country or organization will keep us from going forward."Rajoelina has gained lots of support in East Africa, especially in Tanzania (another country that has established deep ties with the Kremlin in recent years). Its controversial leader, President John Pombe Magufuli, has openly endorsed Covid-Organics and also insinuated recently that the WHO artificially inflated the number of COVID-19 cases in his country.All this parallels, however weirdly, the kinds of assertions and statements made by the U.S. president about miracle cures—ranging in his case from hydroxychloroquine to household bleach, thought not yet Covid-Organics—as well as the failings of a World Health Organization he says is under China’s thumb. And the similarities in the narrative are not entirely coincidental. Many of the African sites spreading these stories also are enthusiastic supporters of Trump. A number of Tanzanian newspapers have criticized the WHO for its refusal to approve Covid-Organics. A pro-government publication, Tanzania Perspective, particularly, reported that Rajoelina accused the WHO of offering him a $20 million bribe to poison the herbal tonic. A spokesperson for the Malagasy president later denied that wild claim, but not until it had gone viral on social media across the continent, including broadcasts on WhatsApp by such groups as One Africa, One Success (OAOS), a platform for African students studying in Russia that has been used to spread disinformation and conspiracy theories targeting the U.S. and defending Trump.Members of the OAOS have also claimed in their messages that Bill Gates has prevented the WHO from approving coronavirus therapies—including hydroxychloroquine—that supposedly have proven to be effective in Africa, a narrative that has been picked up by high-profile politicians in the continent and extended to Covid-Organics."Madagascar claims to have a herbal-based cure for Covid 19," tweeted Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Nigeria aviation minister and a die-hard Trump supporter. "Why is it that the @BillGates-controlled @WHO refuses to take Africans seriously even where some of these ‘cures’ have yielded appreciable positive results?"Back in Madagascar, numerous media outlets, some of which were used by Russia to publish fawning articles about Rajoelina to help him win the 2018 presidential election, have accused the WHO of ineffectiveness, claiming that the agency is being manipulated by certain high powers to undermine Madagascar's coronavirus treatment discovery."What you see mostly in the papers is that the WHO doesn't care about finding a coronavirus cure," Thierry Pam, a French freelance journalist living in Madagascar, told The Daily Beast. "No one says anything good about the WHO."One social media post that went viral across Africa in late April claimed that Putin actually ordered a million doses of Covid-Organics and called on Africans not to listen to the WHO. Agence France Presse (AFP) reported the story was totally bogus. There was never such an order, Madagascar’s authorities denied it, and, officially at least, Russia usually supports WHO efforts to address the pandemic. But disinformation campaigns often are at odds with officially stated policies because their objectives are different. The focus of Russia’s activities has been to drive a wedge between Africa and other international players, whether the U.S., European nations, or China. The Covid-Organics controversy is potentially just another tool to create resentment, as reflected in President Rajoelina’s assertions that his country’s “cure” for the pandemic is being ignored by the West because it is from Africa.Much of the news that people in Madagascar see or listen to is content created by media outlets set up by the operations of Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of  Putin who was indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for allegedly financing the Internet Research Agency that worked to influence the U.S. 2016 presidential election.A leaked document viewed last year by The Guardian revealed that Russia “produced and distributed the island’s biggest newspaper, with 2 million copies a month.” The Russians also run a French-language news service, Afrique Panorama, based in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo, according to The Guardian's report.Madagascar is one of Africa’s poorest nations, with about 80 percent of its 25 million people living on less than $2 per day, but it has managed to ship tens of thousands of doses of Covid-Organics to several countries, including Nigeria, Tanzania, Comoros, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Chad and Equatorial Guinea. Many of these reportedly have been sent for free, leading to suggestions that Madagascar may have gotten Russia's help to produce large amounts of the drug. Since his election, Rajoelina has promoted closer ties with Moscow. Most notably, he has strengthened his MILITARY cooperation and allowed a company owned by Prigozhin, which had acquired a major stake in a government-run firm that mines chromium under Rajoelina's predecessor, to keep control of the operation. This despite protests by workers complaining of canceled benefits and unpaid wages.Meanwhile, in a country where tests have been very limited, and some of those marred by controversy,  hundreds of people are now known to be infected with the virus, and the numbers are rising rapidly. The first two confirmed COVID-19 deaths were reported just this week.
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Annie Awards - Live Stream
April 14, 2021
KTe8oO0GoWU
Entertainment Industry Leading U.S. Jobs Recovery According to Monthly Employment Report
April 07, 2021
SN5rgjk1-YU
'F9: The Fast Saga' Director Justin Lin Breaks Down the Film's New Trailer
April 14, 2021
5PvfDJf1eGg
Jason Momoa Responds to The Rock's Daughter's B-Day Request | E! News
April 19, 2021
g0KYIFAOYCA
Kim Kardashian Mistakes Kourtney's Age on Birthday Card | E! News
April 19, 2021
uOsoA1ccFGA
Oscars 2021 Movie-Inspired Cocktails From TomTom | Daily Pop | E! News
April 19, 2021
BR8lGsMhZQ8
Waka Flocka Flame Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from Donald Trump | TMZ
April 20, 2021
gU5bo1XEocM
Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker Snuggle Up on Beach | TMZ
April 19, 2021
ZVYu-BpcXMg
Dog the Bounty Hunter Says Daunte Wright Would Be Alive with Non-Lethal Ammo | TMZ
April 19, 2021
D7VYvuk-3Uk
Shaq hit on Baylor star DiDi Richards’ mom during interview | Page Six Celebrity News
April 16, 2021
M6Wgurxz_VY
Dave Portnoy rents Floyd Mayweather Miami Beach home for $200K a month | Page Six Celebrity News
April 16, 2021
9ei4sA1MZUI
James Bond and Harry Potter star Helen McCrory dead at 52 | Page Six Celebrity News
April 16, 2021
HhkNwg0cwq0
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
19
Nov
ASIAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group H
Sydney FC - Shanghai SIPG
17
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Spain - Germany
14
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Germany - Ukraine
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Liverpool
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Aston Villa
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Valencia - Real Madrid
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Verona
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Bromwich Albion - Tottenham Hotspur
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Bologna - Napoli
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Genoa - Roma
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Atalanta - Inter Milan
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Lazio - Juventus
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayer Leverkusen - Borussia Monchengladbach
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leicester City - Wolves
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Wolfsburg - Hoffenheim
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Valladolid - Athletic Bilbao
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Levante - Alaves
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Sociedad - Granada CF
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Torino - Crotone
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Getafe - Villarreal
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund - Bayern Munich
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Everton - Manchester United
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Sheffield United
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Cadiz
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Real Betis
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Augsburg - Hertha Berlin
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Stuttgart - Eintracht Frankfurt
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
RB Leipzig - SC Freiburg
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Rotherham - Preston NE
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Parma - Fiorentina
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Watford - Coventry
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Norwich City - Swansea City
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Blackburn - QPR
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Derby County - Barnsley
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Huddersfield - Luton
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Nottingham Forest - Wycombe Wanderers
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Ham United - Fulham
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Sheffield Wednesday - Millwall
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Brentford - Middlesbrough
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Birmingham - Bournemouth
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Sevilla - Osasuna
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Benevento - Spezia
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Crystal Palace - Leeds
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Ferencvaros - Juventus
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Barcelona - Dynamo K.
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group A
Salzburg - Bayern Munich
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group D
Atalanta - Liverpool
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.