New rules for the testing of African herbal remedies to fight COVID-19 have been agreed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The decision will be based upon scientific findings of any traditional remedies and if found safe and effective they will be fast-tracked for large manufacturing.

In a statement, the WHO’s Dr Prosper Tumusiime said: “The onset of COVID-19, like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, has highlighted the need for strengthened health systems and accelerated research and development programmes, including on traditional medicines.”

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The WHO hopes its announcement will help empower African researchers into carrying out proper clinical trials.

In Africa there have been more than 1.3 million coronavirus cases and 33,000 reported deaths.

Around the world the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has surpassed 30 million with deaths believed to be at more than 957,000.

At the moment there are 140 potential vaccines being worked on by research teams around the world.

In addition, the WHO has now given the thumbs up to allowing African traditional medicines to be included in phase three clinical trials.

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The organisation has set up a panel of experts called the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and the African Union Commission for Social Affairs.

The Chairman of the panel Professor Motlalepula Gilbert Matsabisa said: “The adoption of the technical documents will ensure that universally acceptable clinical evidence of the efficacy of herbal medicines for the treatment of COVID-19 is generated without compromising the safety of participants.”

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