Herbal remedy for coronavirus spark debate in China

This article is more than 12 months old

BEIJING: A claim by Chinese scientists that a liquid made with honeysuckle and flowering plants could help fight the deadly coronavirus has sparked frenzied buying of the traditional medicine, but doubts quickly emerged.

As the death toll from the virus sweeping the country continues to rise, shoppers have swamped pharmacies in search of "shuang huang lian".

The rush came after influential state media outlet Xinhua reported on Friday last week that the esteemed Chinese Academy of Sciences had found the concoction "can inhibit" the virus.

Videos shared online showed long lines of people in surgical masks lining up at night outside drug stores, purportedly in hope of snapping up the product, despite official advice that people avoid public gatherings to prevent infection.

It quickly sold out both online and at brick-and-mortar stores, but responses to the remedy's supposed efficacy have ranged from enthusiasm to scepticism on Weibo, China's Twitter-like social media platform.

And state media sounded a more cautionary note on Saturday, with broadcaster CCTV publishing an interview with Professor Zhang Boli, one of the researchers leading the outbreak containment efforts who warned of potential side effects from the medicine.

Mr Marc Freard, a member of the Chinese Medicine Academic Council of France warned that many remedies on the market were of questionable quality and admitted that traditional Chinese medicine "lacks scientific standards of efficacy" because it relied on "individualised treatment". - AFP