China’s National Health Commission, an agency of the CCP government that is responsible for national health policy, has included bear bile injections in its official list of recommended treatments for the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The remedy, known as “Tan Re Qing,” is an injection containing bear bile, and there is no evidence that it can be used to treat the virus. There is evidence that it acts as an anti-inflammatory, due to high levels of ursodeoxycholic acid, which can help alleviate some symptoms, but there are other cruelty-free anti-inflammatories that are far cheaper and work much better. There are also plenty of synthetic versions of Ursodeoxycholic acid as well.
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Aron White, the wildlife campaigner for the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a nonprofit based in London, England, told National Geographic that the Chinese government continues to promote these treatments even though they have banned many of the products.
“We were witnessing how this government recommendation was being coopted by the traffickers to advertise their illegal products as a treatment. There’s a consistent preference among consumers for the wild product, which is often regarded as more powerful or ‘the real deal.’ So, having this legal market from captivity doesn’t reduce pressure on the wild populations—it actually just maintains demand that drives poaching,” White explained.
It is estimated that roughly 12,000 bears are held in captivity on farms and “milked” regularly for their bile in China and Vietnam, according to the Independent. The extraction process is very painful and dangerous for the animal.
There are other banned items on the National Health Commission’s list, including a pill called Angong Niuhuang Wan, which contains rhino horn. Since the trade in rhino horns was banned, the Chinese government has mandated that the pills contain buffalo horn instead, but there remains a strong black market for the traditional recipe.
IMAGE FEATURED: Dimitar Marinov