Sat | May 30, 2020

Norris McDonald | Coronavirus, faith-based medicine and quackery

Published:Sunday | April 19, 2020 | 12:00 AM
President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus, accompanied by Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Thursday, April 16, 2020, in Washington.
In this Thursday, March 12, 2020, photo, a doctor makes homeopathic pills in New Delhi, India. With no approved drugs for COVID-19, some people are turning to alternative medicines without evidence that they work.
In this March 13, 2020, photo, workers fill orders for prescriptions at the Bo Ai Tang traditional Chinese medicine clinic in Beijing. With no approved drugs for the new coronavirus, some people are turning to alternative medicines, often with governments promoting them.

Four companies involved in one of America’s “largest price-fixing cases” are now behind the anti-malaria drug touted by Donald ‘The Great Impeached’ Trump as a snake-oil, cure-all treatment for COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus.

Several leading generic drug makers, including Teva, Pfizer, Novartis, and Mylan, are reportedly accused of conspiring to inflate their drug prices by over a whopping 1,000 per cent!

A lawsuit was filed by 44 US states and “15 executives of the company”, accusing them of collusion in an “industry-wide scheme” to jack up the prices of more than 100 drugs used to treat HIV, asthma, cholesterol, ADHD, and other illnesses.

Heather Murphy, in a May 12, 2019, report in the New York Times, said that prosecutors revealed “a brazen scheme” in the court documents on the price-fixing allegations.

The report said: “The complaint alleges that the conspirators knew their efforts to thwart competition were illegal and that they therefore avoided written records by coordinating instead at industry meals, parties, golf outings, and other networking events.”

‘Snake oil’

This is truly shocking, breaking news, since Donald Trump did not tell the American people about the price-fixing allegations, even as he touts their anti-malaria drug. But to hear Trump tell it, he is “doing a great job” while recommending the use of dangerous drugs that he knows nothing about, including their harmful side effects. “I could have been a great doctor,” Donald ‘The Great Impeached’ Trump says. “I have a natural instinct for it …. Everyone is saying, ‘How do you know so much?’”

Nah-nah-nah-nah! Who is really massaging his ego? Why is anyone listening to the ‘snake oil’ quackery of ‘Dr’ Trump?

Why listen to him, with his crazy fairy tales, when every day, when not preaching medical quackery, he is looking to blame everyone, including, perhaps, the legendary chupacabra or Big Foot for his poor leadership skills?

To be clear, even the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has warned its employees not to use Chloroquine, The Washington Post reports. Ignoring the grave warnings about the extreme danger of this anti-malaria drug has harmed coronavirus patients on whom it has been used.

The CIA warning to its employees about the health risks of Chloroquine is consistent with that of American health experts who have long warned about the grave dangers of this anti-malaria drug.

According to the American Association of Cardiologists, Chloroquine can cause brain damage, severe damage to the heart, and kidney failure.

All reports indicate that the wrong-headed use of Chloroquine on coronavirus patients worsened their health situation.

If there is one thing I have learnt as a respiratory therapist, it is the importance of relying on evidence-based medicine, that is, medical knowledge, including that of traditional cures, that can be proven by historical facts and scientific research.

Evidence-based medicine

I am therefore not surprised by the new information coming out of China that they used traditional herbs – ‘bush medicine’ – on 92 per cent of that country’s coronavirus patients under a doctor’s care. “Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has played an important role in the treatment of novel coronavirus patients in Hubei, the hardest-hit province, with TCM applied on 91.91 per cent of all patients,” Chinese news agency Xinuanet says.

Evidence-based knowledge is the foundation of modern science.

“Herbal medicine has become a popular form of healthcare,” Fablo Firenzuoli and Luigi Gorie conclude in a 2007 United States National Institutes of Health (USNIH) study, ‘Herbal Medicine Today: Clinical and Research Issues’.

In the absence of a COVID-19 vaccine, traditional herbal medicine can help play a vital role in the self-regulation of the vital life functions of the body and help the healing process.

Let’s remember that it was Native Americans who helped the disease-wracked conquistadores by giving them fruits to eat, which, it turned out, were rich in vitamin C and helped to cure their diseases.

That was how it was discovered that vitamin C can cure scurvy.

The USNIH quietly agrees and has created a mobile app, ‘HERBLIST’, which gives information on herbal immune system boosters.

So, apart from using the Cuban drug Heberon and Interferon Alpha 2B, Chinese used their traditional ‘bush medicine’ to help the immune system of COVID-19 patients.

This recognition of the cultural, spiritual, and religious foundation of ‘HERBS’, of ‘bush medicine’, for us as black people, ties us to the souls of our ancestors and our medical and cultural heritage.

Ancestral wisdom

At the end of the day, we must never let Western ideologists and cultural warriors belittle our cultural and ancestral wisdom, including our knowledge of herbal medicine, which has kept us alive.

I am therefore glad that Dr Henry Lowe, one of Jamaica’s foremost scientists, is working on his herbal coronavirus drug based on ganja, ‘the holy weed’, and is awaiting medical and legal approval, which is great news.

Finally, I am reminded of the black religious chorus River Jordan. It is in times like these that we must look deep into ourselves.


The River Jordan is chilly and cold, hallelujah!

Chills the body but not the soul, hallelujah!

I think we can discern from this that only we can destroy our own soul. Everyone wants to stay alive, but, so, too, do your brother, sister, cousin, and neighbour.


Sister, help to trim the sail, hallelujah!

Sister, help to trim the sail, hallelujah!


But should we all follow raw, base animal instincts and impulses and fight each other for the last piece of bread, for the last face mask, for the last ventilator? I don’t think so. This is why it is so sad that not even in these ominous COVID-19 times can wannabe ‘Dr’ Trump bury his narcissistic impulses as he busily spreads his ‘snake oil’ quackery.

That is just the ‘bitta’ truth!

- Norris McDonald is an economic journalist, social researcher, and political analyst. Email feedback to and