No scientific evidence neem leaves can cure COVID-19 infection

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KUALA LUMPUR (March 26): There has been no medical evidence or scientific research to show that the use of the commonly grown herb known as neem or daun semambu, is able to treat COVID-19 infection, as has been claimed on social media, say experts.

Immunology and virology expert Prof Dr Shamala Devi Sekaran said any medical treatment including herbal products, must go through proper experiments and meet the required standards before being approved for public use.

"Just like a vaccine, the drug must be properly validated and there must be scientific evidence to show it is able to directly attack the virus," she said during a Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) live online forum session here today.

The live session moderated by Minister Khairy Jamaluddin was broadcast on MOSTI official Facebook page. Other speakers on the show were epidemiologist, Prof Datuk Dr Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud and data scientist Prof Mahendhiran Sanggaran Nair.

Shamala a fellow of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia stressed that COVID-19 is a novel virus which requires a lot of in-depth research while adding that the vaccine development process would take at least one year.

Awang Bulgilba who was in agreement with Shamala said, the effectiveness of neem leaves in treating other diseases before this, could not be proven scientifically.

"Neem leaves have been tested for other diseases but were found to be ineffective, so it could have worked in one or two cases, which then again could not have been due to the leaves, but other factors," he said.