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Jakarta Post

It’s for aromatherapy, not an antivirus: Ministry backtracks on anti-COVID-19 necklace claims

  • Moch. Fiqih Prawira Adjie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, July 6, 2020   /   06:16 pm
It’s for aromatherapy, not an antivirus: Ministry backtracks on anti-COVID-19 necklace claims The Agriculture Ministry is dialing back on its previous claim about developing an “antivirus necklace” that can help prevent COVID-19 transmission, saying that the product is merely a “health accessory” for aromatherapy. (Courtesy of the Agriculture Ministry//--)

The Agriculture Ministry is dialing back on its previous claim about developing an “antivirus necklace” that can help prevent COVID-19 transmission, saying that the product is merely a “health accessory” for aromatherapy.

Agriculture Ministry Research and Development Department head Fadjry Djufry said in a recent press conference that the upcoming eucalyptus products - which include necklaces, roll-ons and mini inhalers - would not be marketed as having antivirus capabilities.

“There is no antivirus claim there because [the National Agency for Drug and Food Control (BPOM)] classifies them as herbal products,” Fadjry said on Monday.

According to Fadjry, the BPOM only required laboratory and testimonial tests to classify herbal products, whereas antivirus claims would mandate pre-clinical and clinical trials on products.

Photographs published by the ministry showed the necklace with an “Anti Virus Corona” label. Fadjry said that the necklace in the photo was a prototype and the ministry would remove the antivirus label and market it as aromatherapy accessory upon release.

“We used the antivirus label to lift the spirits of our researchers,” he said.

Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo had previously claimed that the eucalyptus products had been tested on influenza as well as beta and gamma coronaviruses and was able to kill 80 to 100 percent of the viruses.

Fadjry, however, said that the ministry had yet to test the products’ effectiveness on samples of the SARS-nCoV-2019 coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

He nevertheless claimed that the products could be used to remedy known symptoms of COVID-19, such as breathing difficulties.

He added that the University of Indonesia in Depok, West Java, and Hasanuddin University in Makassar, South Sulawesi, had offered to conduct clinical tests on the eucalyptus-based inventions.

The ministry is also looking to sell the eucalyptus products overseas, and has filed patents for the products in Singapore, Malaysia and India.

Experts have expressed skepticism about the efficacy of the eucalyptus-based treatments, saying that no drugs have been clinically proven to prevent or cure COVID-19 to date.