Your phone dings. Considering the time, you know who it is. It’s the first of many WhatsApp forwards that your dad will send you today. You pick the phone up and this is what it reads - ‘Take half a glass of warm water and add to it a pinch of cinnamon, some honey, and lemon. If you drink this elixir every day while facing east you will no longer have problems like constipation, chronic loneliness, EMI’s, and poor work-life balance.’ Well, something like this. Now you know that doing this won’t rid you of the EMI’s and the shitty boss. Constipation - maybe but none of the others for sure. BUT. What is the harm? Even if it does not do anything at all, drinking water with honey and lemon will, if nothing, hydrate you. There is ABSOLUTELY NO HARM in trying at least.
Now imagine this Whatsapp message in its ultra mega evolved form where it says ‘Here take this ayurvedic, no side-effect “medicine” of ours and you will be cured of COVID 19’ sent out to the entire country. This is what the press release made by Patanjali Ayurved Ltd announcing Coronil, the Ayurvedic medicine which cured 100% of the cases in clinical trials, was all about.
Pandering to the sense of “what’s the harm” in all of us.
This “medicine” is not even really targeted at COVID patients. Priced at a highly affordable Rs 545 (~$7) for the entire course of 30 days it targets the entire Indian populace who can spend this Rs 600 easily to buy it preventively with the mindset of “if it works, it works else what’s the harm”. This is the reason that the details of the clinical trials were not shared in the press conference but the product will be available for sale at Patanjali stores within a week. The process of getting a medicine approved in India is fairly comprehensive but in this case who needs to bother with the whole process if a press conference can suffice. Why bother with regulations if you can ride the wave of hysteria and panic caused by the deadly virus and sell the public the same Ayurvedic supplements you have been selling all along, just rebranded.
The whole situation is so dodgy that as of the time of writing of this post ICMR, AYUSH Ministry had distanced themselves from Patanjali’s cure.
Now I am as big an optimist as the next person and deep down my heart I actually wish that this medicine is the real deal. The world, myself included, needed some good news and there could not be better news that now there is a really cheap way of preventing any more COVID related deaths. But alas I know a WhatsApp forward when I see one. And I don’t care if a large number of people fall for this and buy it. But it would be really unfortunate if someone loses their life because they bought into this hoax.
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