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Tuesday June 25th, 2024

Anti-Covid potion draws tens of thousands in Kegalle as danger looms

ECONOMYNEXT – You may know it from the Baila, Bivva neda Wadakaha Sudiya (බිව්වා නේද වදකහ සුදිය) but it was a case of the mass belief that consuming a concoction called the Wadakaha Sudiya, during a total eclipse of the Sun would make you very beautiful that filled hospitals with very sick people in Ceylon on June 20, 1955.

And now with the Covid 19 pandemic striking fear into everybody, with a vaccine available only in the distance, with no sight of a cure, the danger of such concoctions, promoted widely by TV and social media can pose a grave societal risk.

Tens of thousands have gathered at a temple in the Hettimulla area in the Kegalle district today as 5,000 free samples of a potion “guaranteed to give lifetime immunity from Covid 19,” will be handed out.

Various quacks are peddling “cures” for Covid 19 on social media claiming either to be able to prevent Covid infections or actually cure the disease are rampant on social media. At last count, there were at least 30 such “cures” doing the rounds on Facebook.

All of them are emerging not from allopathic doctors or registered Ayurveda physicians but from others claiming inherited knowledge or inventions they have stumbled upon.

The current front-runner in the stakes appears to be emerging from the Kegalle area.

The concoction is promoted by Shaman and “Hela” Medicine Man Dhammika Bandara and has received wide media coverage.

Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Minister of State for Vocational Affairs Dr Seetha Arambepola, the Minister in charge of the Covid 19 pandemic Dr Sudarshini Fernandopulle all have been photographed trying out the “medicine” before the media.

His cause has been publicized in Parliament and on the widely watched “Big Focus” interview program on Adaderana TV. His main backer seems to be Sisira Jayakody the State Minister for Indigenous Medicine.

During the interview, Bandara said that he stumbled upon the concoction after “studying the Covid disease.”

He describes himself as being from the “Hela” school of medicine which is not the official Indigenous Medicine or Ayurveda, the millennia-old science practised in South and South-East Asia.

The Hela School does not have formal training as far as it appears but has been responsible for promoting a return to traditional foods such as ancient grains as a way of helping people with diabetes.

In an amazing prediction, Bandara said he prepared his potion in February, long before Sri Lanka was threatened.

Bandara claimed in the Adaderana interview that taking a teaspoon of his concoction three times a day for three days will make a person “immune from Covid for the rest of their lives.”

He also claimed that people who had been infected with the virus could be cured by the mixture.

State Minister Jayakody says that Bandara’s product is “food-based and is not presented as a medicine.”

He also said that “clinical trials conducted at the Wathupitiwala Base hospital proved that Covid positive patients were cured after receiving this mixture.”

These trials involved 15 to 25 people both Covid positive and negative and a significant number were cured, Jayakody claimed.

He also added that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has approved the usage of “traditional and time-tested methods of treating these diseases in combatting Covid.”

That is not entirely true.

Recently the WHO was presented with a case in Africa where the President of Madagascar made a bid to promote a drink based on Artemisia, a plant with proven efficacy in malaria treatment, as a cure for Covid 19.

It was met with “widespread scorn” but the WHO convened a committee which endorsed a protocol for testing African herbal medicines as potential treatments for the coronavirus and other epidemics an article on the issue on the world body’s website said.

COVID-19 has raised the issue of using traditional medicines to battle contemporary diseases, and the endorsement clearly encouraged testing with criteria similar to those used for molecules developed by labs in Asia, Europe or the Americas, the WHO reported on its website.

WHO experts and colleagues from two other organisations “endorsed a protocol for phase III clinical trials of herbal medicine for COVID-19 as well as a charter and terms of reference for the establishment of a data and safety monitoring board for herbal medicine clinical trials,” a statement said.

Phase III clinical trials would involve long-term testing using thousands of volunteers, both infected with Covid and those who are free of the disease and will take months if not years. According to the WHO the testing would involve at least 3,000 people infected with the disease.

Dr Nihal Abeysinghe, a former Director of the Medical Research Institute and a former Asian Regional Consultant on infectious Diseases for the WHO says for such a medicine to be administered to Sri Lankans clinical trials that follow “a strict methodology laid down by the Department of Health Services” has to be followed.

Abeysinghe told EconomyNext that Sri Lanka has a reputed Ayurveda Research Institute at Nawinna and they could investigate the claims made by Bandara and their ilk.

“There can be no secret ingredients in a medicine we have to approve to be given to the general public,” Abeysinghe said as Bandara revealed his panacea contains Bee’s Honey, Nutmeg and “two other ingredients that I am not willing to reveal at the moment.”

The Ministry of Health has appointed an expert panel headed by Professor Senaka Pilapitiya, Dean Faculty of Medicine and Allied Sciences at the Rajarata University to investigate Bandara’s potion and report.

In the meantime, Bandara, whose day job is the custodian of the Bhadrakali Temple in Hettimulla is inviting all comers to come to his temple in to get samples of his potion free of charge today.

The potion may be harmless, as State Minister Jayakody says as it is some sort of a food supplement, but the grave danger lies in the minds of the people who believe in its unproven and untested efficacy.

Once they have taken the required doses, many of the recipients would sincerely believe that they are immune to Covid 19.

Enveloped in a false sense of security they will not take the precautions such as wearing a mask, washing their hands and practising social distancing.

These people will then pose a real danger to the rest of society.

(Colombo, December 8, 2020)

By Arjuna Ranawana

Comments (8)

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  1. Saranga says:

    Such a dump country and its leaders

  2. Prasad K says:

    I think your article is biased towards western ideology and do not believe a Sinhala person can develop such a treatment. I think as a media reporter, you need to take a middle stand and look for facts and report rather stories.
    We need to push the authorities to get the clinical trials done faster and promote this; rather creating a negativity around this treatment.

  3. Sam says:

    Raising hopes of people without proper evidence is thoroughly irresponsible. The ministers who seem to be giving credence to this ‘cure’ even more so. Thank you for your report.

  4. Sarath Gunaselvam says:

    The people get the rulers, government, and the doctors/vedaralas they deserve. Watch to see what happens after this huge crowd got together though with masks.

  5. Chatura says:

    Article is correct. Any treatment should only be made available to the public after conducting randomized double blind studies, followed by a meta-analysis and published in a peer-reviewed journal. Otherwise logical fallacies, personal biases and p-hacking can screw the results.

  6. Jason Van Sandern says:

    Author is trying so hard to sound like a foreigner talking about some tribal country, it is embarrassing. Such servile obedience of WHO recommendations is not necessary – surely each country can decide on it’s own. You mention Madagascar – they seem to have brought Covid under control much better than so-called developed countries. Multi-billion dollar efforts by Pharma companies have not produced any useful therapeutics for Covid. So grow some dignity and let traditional medicine men do what they are good at – something that local allopathists have absolutely no ability to do.

  7. Shantha says:

    Well done Pavithradevi & Lokka,
    They deserve to be awarded as the forthcoming Nobel prize winners for Medicine.

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Comments (8)

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Saranga says:

    Such a dump country and its leaders

  2. Prasad K says:

    I think your article is biased towards western ideology and do not believe a Sinhala person can develop such a treatment. I think as a media reporter, you need to take a middle stand and look for facts and report rather stories.
    We need to push the authorities to get the clinical trials done faster and promote this; rather creating a negativity around this treatment.

  3. Sam says:

    Raising hopes of people without proper evidence is thoroughly irresponsible. The ministers who seem to be giving credence to this ‘cure’ even more so. Thank you for your report.

  4. Sarath Gunaselvam says:

    The people get the rulers, government, and the doctors/vedaralas they deserve. Watch to see what happens after this huge crowd got together though with masks.

  5. Chatura says:

    Article is correct. Any treatment should only be made available to the public after conducting randomized double blind studies, followed by a meta-analysis and published in a peer-reviewed journal. Otherwise logical fallacies, personal biases and p-hacking can screw the results.

  6. Jason Van Sandern says:

    Author is trying so hard to sound like a foreigner talking about some tribal country, it is embarrassing. Such servile obedience of WHO recommendations is not necessary – surely each country can decide on it’s own. You mention Madagascar – they seem to have brought Covid under control much better than so-called developed countries. Multi-billion dollar efforts by Pharma companies have not produced any useful therapeutics for Covid. So grow some dignity and let traditional medicine men do what they are good at – something that local allopathists have absolutely no ability to do.

  7. Shantha says:

    Well done Pavithradevi & Lokka,
    They deserve to be awarded as the forthcoming Nobel prize winners for Medicine.

Sri Lanka to sign Paris Club debt deals as fresh ISB talks to also start

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will sign agreements on restructured debt with Paris Club creditors Wednesday, Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardana said as sources said talks with private creditors are also due to start later in the week.

The relevant senior officials and State Minister Shehan Semasinghe has already left the country to sign the agreements, Minister Gunawardana said.

Sri Lanka has held detailed negotiations with bilateral creditors ever since a sovereign default in 2022 and President Ranil Wickremesinghe has personally met leaders of friendly countries to expedite the restructuring, he said.

The finalizing of the restructure was a ‘great victory’ for Sri Lanka he said.

Details will be revealed to parliament by President Wickremesinghe and an address to the nation on Wednesday he said.

Discussion with private bondholders are also taking place separately, he said.

Face to face talks with bond holders are likely to start Thursday, sources said.

Investors in a steering committee representing key bondholders have halted trading and are in a ‘restricted’ period Bloomberg Newswires reported.

Sri Lanka is attempting to restructure 12.5 billion dollars of sovereign bonds and about 1.7 billion dollars of past due interest following the declaration of an external default in 2022.

Private investors are seeking some so-called macro-linked bonds whose final haircut is linked to dollar GDP as well as some standard or ‘plain vanilla’ bonds with an upfront haircut.

The style of bonds have not been used in sovereign restructurings before. In the latest round of talks more plain vanilla bonds may be discussed, sources aware of the thinking of some bond investors said.

The ISB holders have proposed a 28 percent haircut and a 1.8 percent consent fee. The macro-linked bonds would have principle re-stated up to 92 percent of the original depending on the evolution of gross domestic product.

Sri Lanka is restructuring debt using an IMF debt sustainability model applied to middle income countries with market access as opposed to debt sustainability model used in countries like Ghana applicable to low income countries requiring deeper haircuts on both domestic and foreign debt.

Hair cuts may also depend on the maturity of bonds and the coupon interest.

Ghana has higher levels of commercial debt having started to access capital markets from around 2007.

Ghana also has a bad central bank like Sri Lanka and has gone to the International Monetary Fund 18 times.

The country is also operating flexible inflation targeting (inflation targeting without a clean float), which critics say is the latest spurious monetary regime peddled to hapless unstable countries without a doctrinal foundation in sound money.

Having done broad domestic debt restructuring as well as continued currency volatility both interest rates and inflation remains above 20 percent.

Ghana’s central bank has a worse monetary anchor (8 percent inflation plus 2 percent) compared to 5 percent plus two in Sri Lanka and runs into currency trouble despite being an oil producer like Iran, Venezuela and neighboring Nigeria.

Nigeria has an inflation target of 6-9 percent but ends up with around 20 plus inflation and currency trouble.

Sri Lanka has undershot its inflation target since reaching monetary stability in September 2022 and has appreciated the currency, amid deflationary policy giving a strong foundation for economic activity to resume. (Colombo/June26/2024)

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Sri Lanka to seek investors for 200MW BOOT power plant

EONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s cabinet has given approval to seek investors for a 200 MegaWatt independent power plant on a build-own-operate-and-transfer (BOOT) basis, a government statement said.

The internal combustion power plant will be capable of running on natural gas and is part of the Long-Term Generation Expansion of state-run Ceylon Electricity Board.

The investor will get as 20-year power purchase agreement.

Land next to the ‘Sobhadanavi’ combined cycle plant will be made available for the developer.

According to the generation plan, the 200MW IC plant is expected to come on stream by 2026.

In 2026, a 115 MW gas turbine, a CEB owned diesel plants of 68 MW and 72 MW are due to be retired. (Colombo/June25/2026)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes steady at 305.25/35 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed fairly flat at 305.25/35 to the US dollar on Tuesday, down from 305.20/30 to the US dollar on Monday, dealers said, while bond yields up.

A bond maturing on 01.06.2026 closed at 10.75/11.05 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 10.65/11.05 percent, up from 10.45/85 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.10.2027 closed at 10.65/11.10 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.03.2028 closed at 11.20/11.50 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed at 12.10/15 percent, up from 12.05/17 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.12.2031 closed at 12.10/20 percent, up from 12.08/15 percent.
(Colombo/Jun25/2024)

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