The Chinese government has alarmed wildlife conservationists by suggesting that bile extracted from bears could be a possible treatment for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The government has put out a list of medicines to treat COVID-19 that include both western and traditional Chinese medicine. The list has been compiled and published by China’s National Health Commission, the government body responsible for national health policy.
Among the ‘cures’ for COVID-19 is ‘Tan Re Qing’ that contains bear bile.
Bile is usually produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder.
According to media reports, bear bile contains ursodeoxycholic acid or ursodiol, that is helpful in dissolving gallstones and treating liver disease. Its use has been recorded in China for thousands of years and has continued into the present day in spite of synthetic versions being available.
The process of extracting bile from live bears is painful and can cause agony to the animal. And at the same time there is no proof that it is effective against the coronavirus.
“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 the AFP.