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China recommends bear bile as treatment for coronavirus

Friday, March 27, 2020 • Tamil Comments

The Chinese government has reportedly promoted bile extracted from caged bears as a treatment for the novel coronavirus, and experts have claimed it as highly irresponsible.

COVID-19 is undoubtedly the worst pandemic to have affected the globe in the last few decades and while the world is currently at a standstill, scientists and researchers are working towards finding a possible cure for the deadly infection. Meanwhile, the Chinese government has been criticized by people for using wildlife as a resource, which ended up causing the pandemic. On February 24, 2020, the Chinese government reportedly began laying the groundwork to impose a permanent ban on the trade and consumption of live wild animals for food. The trade of wild animals, however, will still operate for medicine, pets, and scientific research, subject to strict quarantine procedures.

According to a report by a news agency, the Chinese government seems to have approved a research procedure that recommends the usage of Tan Re Qing, an injection that contains bear bile (fluid that aids digestion in bears), as part of multiple treatments for severe and critical COVID-19 cases. The injection has been employed in the treatment of bronchitis and upper respiratory infections by medical practitioners in China for ages. The injection contains bear bile, which is secreted by the animal's liver and stored in the gallbladder.

"For centuries, China has been extracting bile from various species of bears, including Asiatic black bears and brown bears, through excruciating methods such as inserting a catheter, syringe, or pipe into their gallbladder. The bile contains high levels of ursodeoxycholic acid, also known as ursodiol, which is clinically proven to help dissolve gallstones and treat liver disease. In fact, ursodeoxycholic acid has been used as a synthetic drug worldwide for decades," the report mentioned.

While the World Health Organization has maintained that there is no cure for COVID-19 currently, a professor from the University of Minnesota reportedly mentioned that bear bile will not act as a cure for the viral infection, but might, in fact, worsen the infected person's condition as "the acid's ability to keep cells alive may alleviate symptoms of COVID-19 because of its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to calm the immune response."

A Chinese specialist with the Environmental Investigation Agency stated, "Restricting the eating of wildlife while promoting medicines containing wildlife parts exemplifies the mixed messages being sent by Chinese authorities on wildlife trade. Aside from the irony of promoting a wildlife product for treatment of a disease which the scientific community has overwhelmingly concluded originated in wildlife, the continued promotion of the use of threatened wildlife in medicine is hugely irresponsible in an era of unprecedented biodiversity loss, including illegal and unsustainable trade."

COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 25000 people and infected over 552600 people across the world. The virus was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, in China. As the death toll and overall cases began rising rapidly across the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency and the outbreak has now been labelled a pandemic.

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