Chinese netizens mock Swedish Customs' 'testing' of Chinese medicine, say it deserves a Nobel Prize

By GT staff reporters Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/8 20:58:40

Two employees in a TCM store in Dongyang, East China's Zhejiang Province, measure herbal medicine on October 31, 2018. File Photo: VCG

Swedish Customs' accusation and embargo of Chinese medicine Lianhua Qingwen as ineffective just by testing capsule components showed the European country's bias toward Chinese herbal remedy, Chinese experts said on Friday, noting that the baseless prejudice will also impede its ability in handling the COVID-19 in the future.

The comments came after Swedish Customs reportedly held a batch of Lianhua Qingwen capsules, and after testing the capsules, only found menthol. "It does not work," local media reported.

The Swedish Medicines Agency also warned that "It's definitely not something we recommend," despite it having been widely spread across Europe, reports said.

Menthol is just one of the 13 components of the medicine, Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical Co., the company that produced the capsule, told the Global Times in a statement on Friday, adding that the capsules are not registered in Sweden nor authorized for export in the country.

"The Swedish Customs' conduct is biased and unreasonable. The effect of Lianhua Qingwen cannot be determined by merely checking its components. So how can they arbitrarily restrict its entry?" Yang Zhanqiu, deputy director of the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University, told the Global Times on Friday.

Customs checks the legality of imported products, and the Swedish Customs restrictions on Lianhua Qingwen lack evidence - the effect of medicine, Yang said.

The reported move has also sparked discussions on Chinese social media.

"The restrictions reflect Sweden's discrimination against Chinese people living in the European country. Apart from Chinese in Sweden, who else will take the medicine? Has the Swedish government proven that Lianhua Qingwen is ineffective?" a netizen named Bolin said on China's twitter-like Weibo platform on Friday.

"How can Swedish Customs just deny the medical effects by just gauging its ingredients? If medical science works like this, Swedish Customs should be granted a Nobel Prize for Medicine!" a netizen surnamed Fei said.

"If there is only menthol just as the Customs claimed - the medicine is not poison-- why not allow the import? I think there are some hidden reasons that the country tries to impose the restrictions," said another netizen named Jay.

The medicine has been proven effective for treating COVID-19 through experiments, China's top respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan said previously. Lianhua Qingwen can inhibit the virus and repair cell injuries and inflammation caused by the virus. The medicine can be more effective for COVID-19 patients showing mild symptoms. 

Patients' symptoms improved earlier than those who did not take the capsule and CT scan results also showed that patients recover faster after treatment. In addition, the capsule can shorten fever time, Zhong said.

Lianhua Qingwen products have been registered in eight countries, including Brazil, Thailand, Ecuador, and Singapore, the firm said, noting that orders for the medicine have also increased significantly. 

The company has started registration application work for the medicine in many countries such in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, and the Phase II clinical work for FDA registration in the US is also advancing as planned, the firm said.

Sweden's rejection also comes with its unusually hands-off approach in the face of the crisis. It refused to impose a lockdown in the country, a dangerous experiment that puts lives at risk.

More than 24,600 infected cases have been found in the country, with a death toll of over 3,000 as of Friday. The country has a population of about 10 million.

Due to different social and culture habits, it's understandable that some cannot accept the TCM treatment immediately, even if it has proven effective in China's fight against the virus. But as the pandemic spreads and greatly hurts people's health, every treatment is worth a try, instead of just leaving it behind due to prejudice, experts said.

Basic and clinical studies have confirmed that Lianhua Qingwen not only has a killing effect on influenza viruses such as H1N1, H3N2, Avian Influenza H7N9, and Influenza B viruses, but also on other infectious pathogens such as the parainfluenza virus and SARS, the firm said.

In China, the capsule was used by 70 million people as of mid-March.

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