FACT CHECK: Did Trump Approve $2.5 Million For The Mass Production Of Madagascar’s Alleged COVID-19 Remedy?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

A post shared on Facebook claims President Donald Trump approved $2.5 million for the mass production of the herbal tonic touted by Madagascar’s president as a COVID-19 remedy.

Verdict: False

While the U.S. did allocate $2.5 million in aid to Madagascar’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, there is no evidence that money funds the production of any alleged herbal COVID-19 remedy.

Fact Check:

The post claims that the U.S. ambassador to Madagascar confirmed Trump’s approval of the $2.5 million for mass production of the “Madagascan herb medicine” on April 21. Two photos, one of Trump and one of what appears to be a pallet of Covid Organics bottles, accompany the claim.

Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina in April launched Covid Organics, and the herbal tonic has since been distributed and sold throughout the country, the Associated Press reported. Last month, World Health Organization Africa Director Dr. Matshidiso Moeti warned against “the adoption of a product that has not been taken through tests to see its efficacy” after Rajoelina touted it as COVID-19 preventative and cure, according to France 24.

While U.S. Ambassador to Madagascar Michael Pelletier did announce in April that the U.S. would allocate $2.5 million in health assistance to Madagascar to help combat the coronavirus pandemic, there is no evidence any of that money went toward producing Covid Organics. At no point in the videotaped statement about the funds does Pelletier mention any “Madagascar herb drug.”

“Today, I am pleased to announce that the United States will provide Madagascar with an additional $2.5 million in health assistance, specifically to address the coronavirus outbreak,” Pelletier said in the April 21 video. “This money will be used to strengthen the health response across the country, including hospitals, laboratories and community health.”

A fact sheet from the State Department lists the funds as going toward increasing laboratory capacity for diagnostics, improving disease surveillance and contact tracing, promoting risk communication campaigns, training health care workers, procuring essential health commodities and improving waste management. (RELATED: Has The Madagascan President Called For African Countries To Leave The WHO?)

The Facebook post credits the Zambian Observer, an African news outlet, as the source of the claim. On April 26, the outlet did publish an article, titled “Trump offers $2.5 million to Madagascar to develop the Covid-19 remedy,” but it provides no substantive evidence to support the claim it makes, only quoting from Pelletier’s statement.

The Zambian Observer has made a number of false claims in the past, according to Africa Check.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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