THAILAND has approved the use of green chiretta to treat asymptomatic Covid-19 patients after a successful trial conducted by the Corrections Department with infected prisoners.
Deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek said the medicinal herb contains andrographolide, a substance that protects cells from the virus and reduces its multiplication.
According to the Bangkok Post, she said the Corrections Department gave green chiretta to about 11,800 infected inmates and 99 per cent of them recovered.
Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin had previously said that the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine recommended a daily dosage of 180mg of andrographolides from green chiretta.
It is to be taken for five consecutive days for patients with mild symptoms.
He also said that a 0.16 hectare plot can yield up to 600kg of green chirettas, which can be turned into roughly 375,000 herbal extract capsules.
Somsak said a total of 3.1 billion such capsules will be needed to cover the Thai population, meaning more than 1,300 hectares of land would be needed for this.
The Corrections Department now plans to produce about 50 million capsules of the herbal medicine in the next four months, which it aims to give to about 50 per cent of the prison population.
He said green chiretta has now become a cash crop and costs about 450 baht per kg.
Meanwhile on another matter, the Public Health Ministry said the 1.5 million doses of Pfizer vaccine, which was donated by the United States, will be given to all frontline health workers across the country.
"I can confirm that this batch of Pfizer vaccine will be enough to vaccinate all frontline health workers and public health officials," deputy permanent secretary for health Dr Sura Wisedsak said.
He said the vaccine will also be offered as a booster shot for frontline units.
All 77 provinces have been instructed to send lists of frontline medical workers who want to receive the vaccine to the Disease Control Department.
Dr Sura said the shots should be administered within a month as the Pfizer vaccine will likely expire within 30 days if kept at 2 to 8°C.
Any vaccine remaining will likely go to high-risk groups such as the elderly, pregnant women and those suffering from underlying diseases in the 13 worst-hit provinces.
His statement comes as concerns mount that the vaccine may be diverted to other groups and VIPs.
A doctor group called "Mor Mai Thon", nurses and other health related groups gathered outside the US embassy on Tuesday to submit a letter asking it to help scrutinise the government's distribution of the vaccine.
According to the group, transparency in the government's vaccine allocation programme was questionable and they wanted it to be given to those who needed it most.