Rumor Buster: Can oleandrin treat COVID-19?

Source: Xinhua| 2020-08-28 13:37:22|Editor: huaxia

BEIJING, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Multiple U.S. news outlets recently reported that individuals close to the White House were promoting investigations of an extract from the oleander plant as a dietary supplement or, alternatively, a potential therapy for COVID-19, triggering doubt and backlash from the scientific community.

"The unsubstantiated claims alarmed scientists," The New York Times said earlier this month, adding that "no studies have shown that oleandrin is safe or effective as a coronavirus treatment."

According to The New York Times, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases conducted a lab test in May to determine if oleandrin could stop coronavirus infection in cells.

The results were "inconclusive," and the agency opted to discontinue this line of research, Lori Salvatore, a spokeswoman for the Army's Medical Research and Development Command, was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, "this is not a friendly plant ... don't go near this plant," said Matthew Heinz, an Arizona-based internal medicine physician currently caring for hospitalized COVID-19 patients, was quoted by the ABC News as saying.

Oleandrin is "akin to digoxin. Too much can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, but the main concern is arrhythmias, which can be fatal," David Juurlink of the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto told MedPage Today, a medical news service.

It is "easier to kill a person with oleandrin than COVID-19," Jennifer Gunter, MD, tweeted. Enditem