Unarmed Madagascar soldiers went door-to-door in the capital Antananarivo, doling out sachets of a local herbal tea touted by President Andry Rajoelina as a powerful remedy against the novel coronavirus.
Baptised Covid-Organics, the tonic is derived from artemisia, a plant with proven efficacy in treating malaria as well as other indigenous herbs.
It has been developed by the Madagascar Institute of Applied Research (IMRA) but has not been tested internationally.
“This herbal tea gives results in seven days,” Rajoelina announced at its official launch on Tuesday.
“We can change the history of the entire world,” he said, after downing a dose. “Two people have now been cured by this treatment.”
Mainstream scientists have warned of the potential risk from untested herbal brews.
There is currently no known cure for coronavirus, which has infected at least 121 people in Madagascar and more than 2.6 million worldwide.
Yet military officials on the Indian Ocean island nation say the infusion would be better than nothing.
“It will strengthen immunity,” said military doctor Colonel Willy Ratovondrainy on state television, as troops launched a mass distribution campaign.