Moneycontrol PRO
UPCOMING EVENT:Attend Traders Carnival Live. 3 days 12 sessions at Rs.1599/-, exclusive for Moneycontrol Pro subscribers. Register now!

Patanjali found coronavirus cure? Baba Ramdev's company says it has launched clinical trials to treat COVID-19

Consumer products company says it has received regulatory approvals to conduct clinical trials

June 17, 2020 / 03:27 PM IST

The Patanjali group, whose flagship unit sells consumer products and ayurvedic remedies, said it has launched clinical trials on humans to find a cure for COVID-19 after receiving regulatory approvals.

"We are not talking about an immunity booster.  We are talking about a cure," said Acharya Balkrishna, managing director of Patanjali, whose division Patanjali Ayurved sells affordable products such as coconut oil and toothpaste.

The clinical trials have begun in Indore and in Jaipur after Patanjali secured permission last week.

The decision to diversify into the hunt for a cure for the deadly pandemic is unusual for Patanjali because the rush to develop treatments for COVID-19 has so far been led by Big Pharma. Large pharmaceutical companies such as Gilead Sciences, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Inovio Pharmaceutcials and GlaxoSmithKline, among others, are racing to find a successful vaccine.


COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

View more
How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

View more

Also Read: Novavax starts Phase 1 clinical trial of coronavirus vaccine candidate

Patanjali, co-founded by yoga guru and entrepreneur Baba Ramdev, runs a sprawling business empire (see chart) and employs some 50,000 people.

Patanjali Ayurved reported a turnover of Rs 8,500 crore for FY19.


Brokerages CLSA and HSBC see Patanjali Ayurved as the fastest growing FMCG company in India, though the company’s ambitions have been hurt by reckless expansion and inconsistent quality of products. Conducting clinical studies of a potential treatment for a deadly pandemic is an audacious move by the company.

Also Read | Several drugs under trial for COVID-19, remdesivir leading contender: Scientists

Balacharya, as he is popularly referred to, said the group began treating people for COVID-19 as early as in February 2020.

"By March, we had already treated several thousand people.  But they were not part of an evidence-based, clinical trial.  To get our discovery registered as a cure, we had to go through clinical trials," he said.

Securing permits for clinical trials was not easy, according to Balacharya. The group needed several government clearances to be given even a go-ahead for these trials.  ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) was unwilling to grant it the go-ahead.  So the group decided to register with the CTRI (Clinical Trials Regulator of India)  and began its clinical trials at one of the departments under Jaipur University.

Patanjali has the required facilities for conducting such tests, according to people familiar with the group's operations. It has three laboratories – all approved by the NABL ((National Accreditation Board for testing and Calibration Laboratories).  Of these, one laboratory is dedicated exclusively for COVID-19.

"Compare us with any facility any Ayurveda company or institute has in India, and our laboratories are by far the best. We have 500 researchers, of which at least 100 are post-doctoral researchers," said Balacharya.

Patanjali clearly wants to combat COVID-19 with Ayurveda, according to Balacharya.

"We have screened close to 1,000 phytochemicals from more than 100 medicinal plants, in-sillico (of scientific experiments or research conducted or produced by means of computer modelling or computer simulation). We have already developed the required protocols and are now proceeding with evidence-based treatment for curing people afflicted with this virus," he said.

Protocols have already been laid down, said Balacharya, adding that the group’s work on a virus treatment has been put for test by experts.  “Our work is already under Peer-Review for publication in Virology Journal, in Springer-Nature, and available at their pre-print server.

"And once this is done, we shall go in for clinical trials for cures relating to diabetes, blood pressure and dengue as well," said Balacharya.

(RN Bhaskar is consulting editor with Moneycontrol)

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak here
RN Bhaskar
first published: May 27, 2020 07:53 pm

stay updated

Get Daily News on your Browser
ISO 27001 - BSI Assurance Mark