As Tamil Nadu's coronavirus tally crossed the 64,000-mark, the state government has claimed the native Siddha treatment for patients with no or mild symptoms has given 100 per cent recovery rate.
On Tuesday, Yoga teacher Ramadev's Patanjali Ayurved claimed that it has launched medicines that can cure the highly infectious illness within seven days. The company has been ordered by the government to stop advertising or publicising such claims until they have been examined.
In Tamil Nadu, after reporting successful recovery of 25 patients at a centre in Chennai, the state government is expanding the use of Siddha treatment at the Ambedkar College at Vyasarpadi in the capital city, a coronavirus hotspot.
Citing centuries of wisdom behind Siddha, an ancient Tamil way of treatment, the state's Development Minister K Pandiarajan denied the validity of the argument that the move to adopt this largely unscientific medical practice would endanger lives of patients.
"There is a 100 per cent success rate. We are not endangering lives. Siddha is a trump card for us. We are blending Siddha, Yoga and Ayurveda. There is no empirical verification but there is enough history. People have faith. We are documenting many cases now," the minister told NDTV.
"Siddha doesn't have the last mile - ventilator or oxygen support. Then allopathy takes over for such cases. That's only less than 3 per cent of total cases," he added.
A senior officer from the health department said: "We are giving Siddha treatment only for willing cases among symptomatic and mild cases. They are happy."
However allopathic medical practitioners have sounded a note of caution, citing lack of adequate scientific scrutiny.
"We have nothing against it but the only problem is Siddha is not proven through documented studies, trials and results. The treatment known to involve use of heavy metals leading to kidney issues in the long run. But allopathy goes through trials with animals first, then sick patients and healthy people. That's why Siddha isn't accepted internationally," said Dr Arthur, who is based out of the Nagapattinam town.
Initially the state government had recommended Kabasura Kudineer, a Siddha concoction, as an immunity booster.
However in course of time the ruling AIADMK, party insiders say, toed the line of BJP at the centre, its ally.
"Even the Prime Minister has recommended this as a mark of raising the immunity among the people and we are giving the concoction door to door and people like it," Mr Pandiarajan said.
On Tuesday, Yoga teacher Ramdev's Patanjali Ayurved was asked by the government to furnish details of Ayurvedic medicines it launched claiming they can cure coronavirus.
The Ministry of Ayush asked Patanjali to provide at the earliest details like the composition of the medicines, the results of its research, the hospitals where the research was conducted, whether the company had a clearance from the Institutional Ethics Committee and whether it had registered for the clinical trials.
There is no scientific evidence of any alternative cure for COVID-19, even as vaccines are being tested by many countries. The World Health Organisation has also cautioned against such claims.
Renowned carnatic vocalist T M Krishna tweeted: "If anybody else had done this he would have been arrested for spreading misinformation in times of crisis."