People sit in an observation area after being inoculated with a dose of the Chinese-made Sinopharm Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine as government imposed travel restrictions and weekend lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus in Colombo on May 16, 2021. (Photo by LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP)

Facebook posts falsely tout an indigenous medication in Sri Lanka as Covid-19 cure

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As Sri Lanka faces a surge in Covid-19 cases, multiple Facebook posts claim that an indigenous medication has been discovered in a southern village as a ‘cure’ for Covid-19 induced pneumonia, alongside images purported to show crowds already thronging to the area to obtain the medicine. The claims are false: both international and indigenous health experts said there was no scientific basis for the purported medicine as effective Covid-19 cure and they warn the public against falling prey to such fraudulent claims.

The Facebook post published on May 9, 2021 here claims an indigenous medicine practitioner in Sri Lanka has discovered a medication to cure Covid-19.

The post’s Sinhala language caption translates to English as: 

“Angampora weda medura' (translation: Angampora Treatment Center') located in Katuwana has announced that a medicine that can cure the Corona pneumonia by 95% has been discovered. Upon the announcement, a large crowd has been gathering to get this medication.

Screenshot of the Facebook post captured on May 11, 2021

Angampora is a technique of Sri Lankan martial arts that combines combat techniques, self defense, sports, exercise, meditation taught alongside indigenous medical practices as well.

Katuwana is a village located in Southern Sri Lanka. 

The same claims and images have also been shared on Facebook such as seen here and here.

The claims and images circulated after a Facebook account named Angampora Weda Gedara, which has since been deactivated, shared the same images and claimed they had discovered an indigenous medication with the ability to cure Covid-19 induced pneumonia with some 95 percent efficiency.

Below are screenshots of Angampora Weda Gedara’s claims on Facebook taken by AFP on May 10, 2021 before the account was deactivated:

Screenshots of Angampora Weda Gedara’s claims on Facebook taken by AFP on May 10, 2021 before the account was deactivated

The lengthy captions of the misleading posts translate to English in part as: “The drug that can save from Covid Pneumonia up to 95% is being made at the Angampora Weda gedara these days...Order soon... Those who bring the necessary herbs will not be charged.”

His posts also claimed the pneumonia will be cured through the administration of a porridge made out of plants with a high oxygen concentration.

These claims surfaced while Sri Lanka battles a surge in the Covid-19 infections in a third wave of the pandemic. As of May 17, 2021 Sri Lanka has recorded 142,746 infections, with more than 100 deaths during the past week alone.

The claims, however, have been dismissed as false by medical experts who told AFP there was no scientific basis behind those claims. 

Sri Lanka Health Promotion Bureau Registrar Dr. Ashan Pathirana told AFP the public should not fall prey to fraudulent ‘cures’.

“There is no scientific basis behind these claims. Believing in them will only cause grave repercussions. For example, a Covid-19 positive patient resorting to a false cure instead of seeking immediate medical care if the condition takes a turn for the worse can end up in a fatality,” Dr. Pathirana said.

Dr. L. P.A. Karunathilake, a senior lecturer of Indegenous medicine at the University of Colombo told AFP the purported ‘cure’ is fraudulent. 

“Indigenous medicine and ayurveda treatments follow methods that have been codified since over a thousand years ago. No individual can claim any such discovery. Moreover, to proclaim the efficacy of any medication, necessary clinical trials have to be followed. In this case there is no scientific data to back the claims,” Dr. Karunathilake told AFP.

AFP also contacted a traditional Angampora practitioner Samantha Gunarathna to verify the authenticity of an angampora medication being able to cure Covid-19 pneumonia. 

Speaking to AFP on May 10, 2021 he said the claim is a falsehood because although their treatment manuals provide instructions on administering liquid oxygen via herbal treatments, it is not viable at present due to a lack of necessary herbs. 

“Some of the herbs are endemic to India and they are unavailable locally. As a result, the manufacturing process of certain medications has been halted for a long time now,” he told AFP. 

This is not the first of false cures for Covid-19 circulating online in Sri Lanka. AFP has debunked several claims including a ‘miracle syrup’ by a faith healer and a falsely touted supplement.

Here is a list of other AFP debunks on misleading Covid-19 cures and home remedies.