‘The motivated news articles are a classic case of misinterpreting the facts and seeing the glass half empty,’ the Ministry of Ayush said

The government has come out strongly against a ‘malicious campaign’ carried out by a section of the media against Ayurveda in general and the Ministry of Ayush in particular for the last couple of days.

While stating that the media got carried away by a small study which is not peer reviewed yet, the Ministry of Ayush said, “The motivated news articles are a classic case of misinterpreting the facts and seeing the glass half empty.”

It defended AYUSH-64 while stating that it is a herbal formulation found effective in the management and treatment of COVID-19 based on many larger studies and a robust multi centered clinical trial.

“The news articles cite just one paper (while acknowledging themselves that the paper is a small, preliminary study), that too a pre-publication to discredit a sincere and concerted effort of the ministry of Ayush and the taskforce (the AYUSH inter disciplinary R&D Task Force for covid-19) made up of accomplished researchers from both Allopathic as well as Ayurveda,” the Ministry of Ayush said in a statement on Thursday.

It said the pre-publication in question is borne out of a collaborative research project between the National Institute of Ayurveda, Jaipur and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Jodhpur.

“Both institutes are reputed and are apex centers of learning and research in respective fields with a long and rich legacy of patient care as well as research and condemn the mis-reporting done on the outcome of their study,” the Ministry said.

The Ministry also talked to Dr. Jaykaran Charan who has been wrongly quoted by the media on the AYUSH-64 issue.

The Ministry said Dr Jaykaran has categorically denied and said, “I have never said that AYUSH 64 is ineffective or useless. On the contrary the drug in question, AYUSH 64, has shown efficacy in the primary endpoint…The results clearly show that AYUSH 64 is a safe drug with an equivalence in safety with standard of care statistically ‘No difference’ does not mean ineffective or useless, it means equivalent.”

The Ministry further said that the pre-publication categorically states that “On comparing both the groups for frequency of RT-PCR negative subjects on day 5th, it was found that 21 (70%) subjects from the AYUSH 64 group and 16 (54%) subjects from control group were RT-PCR negative on 5th day.

“Though the actual events of negative RT-PCR were more in the AYUSH 64 group, this difference was not statistically significant [p=0.28]. There was no statistically significant difference between two groups for fever and respiratory symptoms and lab parameters. No serious adverse events reported from any group during the assessment period,” the Ministry of Ayush said.

These news articles go against the tenet of unbiased reporting. Generalising the outcome of a pilot study with limited sample size is wrong. The journalist out of nowhere claims that the drug is ineffective, based on the study which shows its better relief in percentage, though due to small sample size it cannot be ascertained and hence is statistically insignificant.

“More robust studies of larger sample size and multicentric exposure have established its efficacy as an add-on to standard care. The study preprint itself mentioned that a larger sample size study is required,” the Ministry said.