Kyrgyzstan will use a herbal tonic to treat Covid-19, its health minister said on Friday after his president praised the remedy - despite warnings from a medical expert that it contained a potentially lethal poison.
Minister Alymkadyr Beishenaliyev drank a solution made from the roots of aconitum soongaricum at an online briefing to show that it was safe.
"Those with mild symptoms recover within a day, those with more acute form (of the illness) take it three to four days," he said.
President Sadyr Japarov had personally provided doctors with a recipe passed on to him by his father, and they were already using it, Beishenaliyev said.
But Bermet Baryktabasova, a medicines expert and a former health ministry advisor, described aconitum as "the most poisonous plant in Kyrgyzstan.
"...Even the smallest doses of its extract have strong negative effect on the body and the person might quickly die," she added. "We are falling back into the Middle Ages."
While promoting aconitum soongaricum, Japarov also urged Kyrgyz citizens to wear masks and vaccinate, saying that so far only 4,000 people have received shots in a country of six million, a sign of "extreme indifference".
Kyrgyzstan has reported over 90,000 Covid-19 cases with more than 1,500 deaths.
Several countries' leaders have relegated or eschewed vaccines as coronavirus treatments.
Tanzania's former president John Magufuli, who died in March, denounced them as part of a Western conspiracy to take Africa's wealth, while ex-US president Donald Trump - in comments he later said were sarcastic - posited injecting bleach as a possible cure.