‘Unadulterated rubbish’: Scientists on Ayush ministry’s COVID-19 trials

The ministry claims traditional medicines help in speedy recovery from COVID-19 and its prevention even as scientists question the clinical trials’ methodology.

In May 2020, India initiated a “historic project” to combat COVID-19. Dr Harsh Vardhan, then union health minister, announced, “The Ayush and health ministry has started clinical trials of Ayush medicines. We’re trying to explore their potential as a prophylactic (disease prevention) and in treatment of COVID-19.”

The result of the trials was predetermined. “Through this, we will prove the supremacy and superiority of ayurveda [in battling COVID-19] through modern scientific means.” This project, he added, had the “blessings” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Ayush ministry has since conducted 139 trials across 159 centres in India. These include …


Omkar Khandekar

Omkar specializes in long-form narrative features and has reported from India, the UK, Germany and the Maldives. He writes across beats, from politics and crime to cinema and sports. His works have been published in Indian and international outlets including The Caravan, Mint Lounge, the BBC, Al Jazeera and The Huffington Post.

Senior Features Writer