Johannesburg – The South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research- CSIR – has found that extracts of two indigenous plant species from Lesotho are active against two Covid19 strains, and has recommended them for animal tests and then human clinical trials.

CSIR says the samples were tested against the severe and acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) as well as against the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

In addition they were tested for toxicity to human cells and researchers say in all cases the extracts almost did not show signs of toxicity to the target cells.

“In conclusion, the extracts received from the university of Lesotho were active against the two coronaviruses tested and did not show toxicity in vitro. We would recommend that these extracts be tested in animals before human clinical trials.” says CSIR

On 29 July 2020, the National University of Lesotho, approached the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in connection with the processed two indigenous plant species from Lesotho to investigate them for anti-viral properties against SARS-Cov-2. 

It was highlighted that the two plant species are part of a bigger initiative by the National University of Lesotho to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in Lesotho, to develop products to treat COVID-19 opportunistic ailments in Lesotho, such as the respiratory tract infections, which include colds, influenza and asthma. 

The initiative is led by Dr Lerato Seleteng-Kose, who is a Senior Lecturer at the National University of Lesotho and has a background on the medicinal plant species traditionally used to treat human diseases in Lesotho, together with a group of researchers also from the University of Lesotho.

CSIR says the cost to test the plant sample mixtures was covered by the South African Department of Science and Innovation, using a Lesotho-South Africa Bilateral fund.

Responding to the findings, the newly established Commission on African Covid19 Response championed by South African president Cyril Ramaphosa who was appointed by the AU Bureau of Assembly of Heads of State, says it is aware of this development and its members are studying the evidence.

Head of Secretariat Dr. Lwazi Manzi told Lesotho Express that “The Africa CDC will make further pronouncement once there has been adequate consultation on the next steps.”