Quantcast
Connect with us

Activists slam China’s use of bear bile in virus treatment

Published

on

China has approved the use of bear bile to treat coronavirus patients, angering activists and raising fears it could undermine efforts to stop the illegal animal trade which is blamed for the emergence of the new disease sweeping the globe.

The move comes just weeks after China banned the sale of wild animals for food, citing the risk of diseases spreading from animals to humans.

ADVERTISEMENT

But the National Health Commission in March issued guidelines recommending the use of “Tan Re Qing” –- an injection that contains bear bile powder, goat horn and three other medicinal herbs –- to treat critically ill coronavirus patients.

It is one of six traditional Chinese medicine products included in the directive.

President Xi Jinping has been keen to promote traditional medicine, calling it a “treasure of Chinese civilisation” and saying it should be given as much weight as other treatments.

The active ingredient in bear bile, ursodeoxycholic acid, is used to dissolve gallstones and treat liver disease but has no proven effectiveness in treating COVID-19.

China has used both traditional and Western medicine in its battle against the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 3,000 and infected more than 82,000.

ADVERTISEMENT

But activists say greenlighting a treatment that uses an animal product is “both tragic and ironic” given that the origin of the deadly coronavirus is linked to the trade and consumption of wild animals.

“We shouldn’t be relying on wildlife products like bear bile as the solution to combat a deadly virus that appears to have originated from wildlife,” Brian Daly, a spokesman for the Animals Asia Foundation, told AFP.

The novel coronavirus is believed to have come from bats, but researchers think it might have spread to humans via an intermediate host mammal species.

ADVERTISEMENT

– Cruel trade –

Chinese disease control officials have previously identified wild animals sold in a market in Wuhan market as the source of the coronavirus pandemic.

Conservationists have long accused China of tolerating a cruel trade in wild animals as exotic menu items or for use in traditional medicines whose efficacy is not confirmed by science.

ADVERTISEMENT

Scientists say Severe Acute Respiratory System (SARS) — another deadly coronavirus — likely originated in bats, later reaching humans via civet cats.

“Promotion of bear bile has the propensity to increase the amount used, affecting not only captive bears, but also those in the wild, potentially compromising an already endangered species in Asia and across the world,” Daly said.

There are about 20,000 bears being held in tiny cages under cruel conditions across China to cater to the demand from traditional medicine suppliers, said Kirsty Warren, a spokeswoman for World Animal Protection.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We estimate the entire market value of bear bile pharmaceuticals to be more than $1 billion,” Warren added.

Bile farming is legal in China — but exports of the product or treatments made from it are banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which China is a signatory to.

“Across Asia, bear bile trade is widespread, although it is illegal in most countries,” said Richard Thomas from animal rights NGO Traffic.

“But the active ingredient in bear bile — ursodeoxycholic acid — is readily synthesised in laboratories, so even if it did prove to be popular, there should be no need for bear bile to be included (in medicines).”

ADVERTISEMENT

China in February declared an immediate and “comprehensive” ban on the trade and consumption of wild animals that was welcomed by environmentalists.

Beijing implemented similar measures following the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s, but the trade and consumption of wild animals, including bats and snakes, made a comeback.

But in signs that the measures are being taken more seriously this time, the southern city of Shenzhen also passed a law this week banning the consumption of wild animals — including cat and dog meat.

The move was welcomed by animal rights activists, with Humane Society International saying the trade kills an estimated 10 million dogs and four million cats in China every year.

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump ignores stalled COVID stimulus negotiations — as he starts three-day vacation at golf course

Published

on

President Donald Trump arrived in New Jersey on Thursday evening to begin a three-day vacation at his Bedminister golf course.

Reporters shouted questions about the stalled stimulus negotiations, but AP White House correspondent Jonathan Lemire reports that Trump ignored the question.

The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate adjourned on Thursday, allowing members a three-day weekend.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Stimulus negotiations collapse as Mark Meadows slammed the table and walked out: Nancy Pelosi

Published

on

The White House and Congress remain trillions of dollars apart on the next coronavirus stimulus bill.

Speaking Nancy Pelosi told reporters following a three-hour negotiation meeting that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows slammed the table and walked out of the meeting, to which Pelosi replied that the Trump administration was slamming the table on our children.

Here's some of what Capitol Hill correspondents tweeted following the end of the meeting:

Pelosi: "We're very far apart. It's very unfortunate"

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Senate adjourns until Monday as members leave town without a deal on coronavirus stimulus or enhanced unemployment

Published

on

The United States Senate adjourned on Thursday, allowing members a three-day weekend despite the fact enhanced unemployment has expired and there has been no deal reached on the next round of COVID-19 stimulus.

The decision to leave Washington, DC for the weekend comes the same day the federal government reported over 1 million Americans have filed new unemployment claims -- for the 20th week in a row.

The Senate is adjourned till Monday afternoon, with no deal on a new COVID rescue. McConnell cancelled August recess today, but a lot of senators have skipped town anyway.

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image