Indian News Outlets Falsely Claim ‘Coronil Got WHO Recognition’

Abhilash Mallick
·4-min read

Several Indian news outlets and other social media users shared a misleading claim on the internet stating that Patanjali's 'Coronil' has been recognised as a medicine for COVID-19 by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The claim came right after Baba Ramdev launched the “first evidence-based medicine for COVID-19 by Patanjali” in the presence of Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari.

However, we reached out to the WHO who said that it has not reviewed or certified the effectiveness of any traditional medicine for the treatment of COVID-19. Patanjali, too, issued a clarification on Twitter, and said that the “WHO GMP compliant CoPP certificate to Coronil is issued by DCGI, Government of India and not WHO”.

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CLAIM

Immediately after the launch of the Coronil tablet by Baba Ramdev, news outlets started publishing exclusive interviews with Ramdev and Patanjali Ayurveda’s managing director Acharya Balkrishna. News channels like India TV, News Nation, News18 Hindi, and Asianet News published tweets and interviews, where they claimed that Coronil was WHO-certified.

Some social media users also claimed that Coronil was a cure for COVID-19. Both the claims went viral on all social media platforms and were massively shared by users.

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WHAT WE FOUND OUT

Hours after the claims went viral, Acharya Balkrishna tweeted a clarification and said that the Goods Manufacturing Practice (GMP) compliant Certificate of Pharmaceutical Product (CoPP) to Coronil has been issued by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), Government of India.

He also stated in another tweeted that the CPP license was issued in accordance with the WHO GMP quality approvals.

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The Quint reached out to WHO and they said, “The WHO has not reviewed or certified the effectiveness of any traditional medicine for the treatment of COVID-19. The good manufacturing practice certificate – COPP GMP – is issued by national drug regulatory authorities usually following WHO guidelines.”

WHAT IS COPP-GMP AND WHO CERTIFICATION SCHEME?

A press statement issued by Patanjali during the launch event said, “Coronil has received the Certificate of Pharmaceutical Product (CPP) from the Ayush section of Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation as per the WHO certification scheme,” news agency PTI said.

CoPP is merely a certificate issued in the format recommended by WHO to establish that the product and its makers are eligible for export to other countries.

This does not mean the tablets have been approved or recognised by the World Health Organisation as COVID treatment or cure.

As per the WHO’s website, GMP “ensures that medicinal products are consistently produced and controlled to the quality standards appropriate to their intended use and as required by the product specification”.

“GMP also has legal components, covering responsibilities for distribution, contract manufacturing and testing, and responses to product defects and complaints,” the website added.

WHO GMP provisions have been incorporated by more than 100 countries into their national medicine laws.

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IS CORONIL A CURE FOR COVID-19?

On the basis of presented data, the Ministry of Ayush has recognised Coronil Tablet as medicine for “supporting measure in COVID-19”, the PTI report stated.

The label on the Coronil Tablet bottle clearly states: ‘Now approved as the Supporting Measure in COVID-19 by Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India’.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, speaking at the launch event, also said that the tablet can be used in ‘support’ of the allopathic treatments for the disease.

Last year, the tablet was recognised as an ‘immunity booster’ by the AYUSH ministry after the company received massive criticism for advertising it as a COVID cure without sufficient evidence.

Therefore, the claim that Patanjali’s Coronil has been approved by the WHO is false. It is also misleading to claim that Coronil can be used as a cure for COVID-19 as the company and the government has clearly stated that Coronil should only be used as a ‘supporting measure’ in treating COVID-19.

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