Is Patanjali’s Coronil really the first drug for Covid-19?

Immunity boosters have their benefits but Patanjali’s Coronil should not be marketed as a drug against coronavirus, say the country’s top medical experts.

Patanjali’s Coronil has faced controversy since Baba Ramdev’s company came out with claims of the drug being the “first evidence-based medicine” to treat Covid-19. Debating the issue, top doctors of modern medicine and Ayurveda—Dr J.A. Jayalal, president of the Indian Medical Association, Dr Girish Tyagi, former president of the Delhi Medical Association and registrar of DMC, and Acharya Ram Gopal Dixit, president of Arogya Peeth and a neuropathy expert—countered questions and presented their opinions to The Sunday Guardian.

Q: What is the reason behind the controversy surrounding Coronil?

Dr Dixit: I don’t see any reason behind this controversy because Coronil is a kit that increases immunity which further enables the body to fight diseases. Those creating the controversy should get informed about Ayurveda. When we talk about India, Ayurveda should also be talked about. It has been in the backdrop of our culture till now. No matter which field we are in, we should respect the scientific skills and knowledge of our nation instead of spreading controversies. Corrections and discussions should be welcomed but some things should not be criticised just for the sake of your own profit. 

Q: How ethical is it to promote this medicine?

Dr Dixit: Each one of us must have had kadha during this pandemic. Coronil comprises all those essentials in order to prevent diseases, which includes lung disease. My friends and I caught the coronavirus and were hospitalised. And apart from the medicine given to us by the doctor, we used household remedies to treat the infection. I think the name is the main reason behind the controversy. You cannot call this kit a preventive measure, treatment or post-care kit against Covid-19, because then the vaccine will have no use in the country, but you may call it an immunity booster.

Q: What are your concerns regarding the kit?

Dr Jayalal: We are not against the prestige of a drug. The only concern is the claims of the function with which it was marketed to us. We are well aware of the benefits of immune-boosters but in case of a pandemic with a mortality rate of 1.6 million, if we call Coronil as a preventive, treatment and post-complication care against Covid, we will call it as the monetary benefit of a company. We accept the Ayurvedic drug wholeheartedly, but if someone claims it to be an evidence-based drug of choice for the treatment, it is subjected to question.

When the press asked questions regarding the drug, they showed the evidence proved in the pilot study of a phyto-medical journal. A pilot study is a study that occurs prior to a proper study, and is also called a sample study. They have included only 45 people in the study where every individual was asymptomatic. They say they did it in IL-6 and TNF factor, but how can these biomarkers be raised in an asymptomatic person? To mount on that, the researcher is Patanjali itself. Conflict of interest will always be created if there is no second opinion from other scientists and researchers, but the company itself. If Baba Ramdev claims it as an immune-boosting kit, there is no issue. But they cited it as the first evidence-based drug and claimed to have WHO certification in the presence of the WHO director. This should have been avoided. We respect Ayurveda and Dr Acharya. But we plead the Government of India not to give out a false message to common people.

Q: Trials have been conducted on the false projections of the Coronil kit and a lot of people have shown their concerns about it. What would you say regarding the trials?

Dr Dixit: The Covid pandemic is now under control and we appreciate the vaccine and the achievement of our country in its development and distribution. We are talking about the research on the basis of modern medicine. The Vedic research cannot be conducted for a larger picture. But Ayurveda believes that if all the three Doshas become one, all illnesses will reduce automatically. All the Agnis should be equal and all the seven Dhatus should be equal too. For this, Coronil contains all the essentials.

Q: People are avoiding the diagnosis and treatment of Covid, believing the claims of an immune-booster drug, which is wrong.

Dr Dixit: I would like to say that the number of Covid-positive people being represented to us and the actual number of active cases don’t match at all. Literate people do go to doctors for the treatment of Covid but more than 70% people are treating the disease at home. They don’t tell the medical team about their disease fearing quarantine. Many people who were given HCQ also died, even after being admitted to the ICU.

Dr Tyagi (to Dr Dixit): Can you claim that death won’t be the end result after Coronil?

Dr Dixit: No, I can’t.

Dr Tyagi: Stop claiming that the kit will prevent Covid as it is wrong to do so.

Dr Jayalal: India had a recovery rate of 97%. More than half of the remaining 3% died because they had low immunity and were already suffering from other diseases.

 Q: Some of those who died may have had co-morbidities, but some included young doctors and other young people too.

Dr Jayalal: If you see, 80% of the deaths occurred of the hyper-immune syndrome. This means that immunity is overreacting, which produces more Ferritin, IL6 levels. This is the area which is still not understood. We may say that low immunity is a problem, but other than that, the deaths also occurred due to a cytokine storm, which produces immune cells mismatched to the disease. You can recall the benefits of immune-boosters but how immunity works is still a question. You can claim evidence only on the basis of good research. Otherwise, don’t call it a therapeutic drug. It is very disrespectful for us when Ayurveda claims Coronil as the “first evidence-based drug”. Let us not allow our knowledge to be hijacked on scientific grounds for the profit of a company.

Q: What would you like to say about this, Dr Dixit?

Dr Dixit: I talk about Coronil and not the company. I can only talk about the contents of Coronil and I too am not supportive of the claim that Patanjali makes. Information and claims are two very different things. But I would say that these contents do promote immunity and enable the body to fight any viral or lung diseases.

Q: The kit comprises three components. What are they?

Dr Dixit: One of them is swasari pravahi to normalise breathing. The second one is a nasal spray that clears the nasal passage so that the mucous lining doesn’t clog it. And the Coronil tablet helps to boost immunity.