The Centre for Plant Medicine Research (CPMR), Mampong Akuapem, has debunked claims that alcoholic bitters can substitute hand sanitizers in preventing an infection with the novel Coronavirus upon exposure.
“This is because, for a sanitizer to be effective in ridding the hands of coronavirus, it must have 60-95 per cent alcohol by volume.
“However, the alcohol content for bitters on the market is often less than 45 per cent. Thus, clearly, such bitters and their alcohol contents are inadequate as a sterilizing measure against COVID-19.”
These were contained in a statement, signed and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra by Mr Baffuor Osei Akoto, the Head of Public Relations, of the CPMR.
The Centre, which is mandated to research into the safe use and production of herbal medicine, stated that, “No known medicinal plant, or herbal product or local gin has, at yet, been proven to be efficacious against COVID-19”.
The Centre, therefore, expressed concern about the false claims about substitutes being spread on social media, which were gaining currency among the public.
“As a research centre of excellence, however, we are engaging with our various partners and stakeholders, including the Ministry of Health and Traditional Medicine Practitioners to explore research opportunities in the fight against COVID-19 using herbal medicine,” the statement said.
The Centre, meanwhile, advised the public to adhere to the Ghana Health Service guidelines regarding the disease.
The guidelines encourage everyone to frequently wash their hands with soap under running water; or use of alcohol-based sanitizers (at least 60 per cent alcohol per volume).
They should also cover their mouths with their flexed elbows or tissue paper while coughing or sneezing.
Additionally, they should maintain a distance of at least two metres from people coughing or sneezing; and undertake regular physical activities, regularly drink water, and keep personal hygiene.
The announcement of two confirmed COVID-19 in Ghana, on the night of Thursday, March 12, was met with a mad rush for hand sanitizers the following day, leading to a shortage and price hikes of the antibacterial product.
This triggered the social media claims on substituting them with alcoholic herbal drinks, which are deemed cheaper.
The Centre for Plant Medicine Research is a centre of research excellence with a mandate of providing leadership in plant medicine research in Ghana.
It was established in 1975 as an agency of the Ministry of Health with an aim of making herbal medicine a natural choice for all.