The government will conduct a randomised controlled clinical trial to assess the efficacy of ayurvedic drug ashwagandha as a preventive intervention among healthcare professionals and high-risk COVID-19 population in comparison with hydroxychloroquine.
This will be a joint initiative of the ministries of AYUSH, health, and science and technology through the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) with technical support from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Thursday.
Simultaneously, the efficacy of ayurvedic drugs yashtimadhu, combination of Guduchi and Pippali and a poly-herbal formulation (AYUSH-64) along with ashwagandha will also be evaluated as a prophylaxis and add on to standard care in mild to moderate COVID-19 patients, Secretary in the Ministry of AYUSH Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha said.
"These randomised controlled clinical trials will help us assess the benefit of these ayurvedic drugs as a preventive intervention and as an add on therapy in arresting the progression of the respiratory ailment," Kotecha said.
An interdisciplinary AYUSH Research and Development Task Force with a group of experts under the chairmanship of Dr Bhushan Patvardhan, Vice Chairmen of University Grant Commission, has formulated clinical research protocols for prophylactic studies and add-on interventions in COVID-19 positive cases thorough review and consultative process for studying these four different interventions -- ashwagandha, yashtimadhu, guduchi and pippali, and AYUSH-64.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan also launched on Thursday the 'Sanjivani' mobile application to generate data on acceptance and usage of AYUSH advocacies and measures among the population and its impact in prevention of COVID-19. AYUSH minister Shripad Yesso Naik also participated in the press conference through a video link from Goa.
Developed by the Ministry of AYUSH and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY), the mobile application aims to reach out to 50 lakh people.
Vardhan said that COVID-19 management has provided a potent platform for alliance among the ministries of health and AYUSH, and technology organisations such as CSIR, ICMR, and UGC to not only develop AYUSH interventions and solutions, but also help in promoting the knowledge for the larger good of the global community.
Ayush secretary Kotecha said the government will also initiate population-based studies to see the impact of ayurvedic, unani, siddha and homeopathy interventions in prevention of COVID-19 infection among high-risk population, Kotecha said.
The study will be carried out through four research councils under the Ministry of AYUSH and national institutes in 25 states and several state governments covering around five lakh people, he said.
Elaborating on the importance of these studies, Vardhan said, "The alliance provides valuable opportunity for knowledge-based solutions to continue to benefit us even after the COVID-19 pandemic ends, by possible integration of AYUSH in mainstream scientific efforts."
"Let us also understand that the modern pathies of medicine and science are not in competition with those of AYUSH, but they complement and strengthen each other in intrinsic ways," he added.