Third Covid infection for a Bolivian vice-president who praises traditional medicine

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La Paz (AFP) – Bolivian Vice President David Choquehuanca, who touts indigenous treatments for Covid-19, contracted the virus for the third time, the government said on Tuesday, with six government ministers also testing positive.

All are self-isolating and working from home, without major symptoms, the president’s office said in a statement. All had been vaccinated against the coronavirus, although Choquehuanca – a member of the indigenous Aymara group – had only received one vaccine.

Last month, he revealed that he had contracted Covid-19 twice and recovered after taking what he called traditional medicine.

Choquehuanca said he consumed a mixture of turmeric, ginger, onion, garlic and honey in the morning, as well as honey with lemon.

He said he chewed coca leaves mixed with baking soda, an ancient practice among indigenous Aymara and Quechua groups in Bolivia who have largely resisted coronavirus vaccines.

“Coke with ‘bico’ (baking soda) is very good,” he told a local radio station, adding “I even ate weed.”

The politician claimed at the time to have acquired immunity by infection, in a “natural” way.

But he said he would get a vaccine to end controversy over his needle-free status, as Bolivian opposition urged him to lead by example amid a fourth wave of infection sweeping across the country. country.

Choquehuanca received his first vaccine, with the Chinese vaccine Sinopharm, on January 3, just days after his radio interview.

Other infected people included Foreign Minister Rogelio Mayta, who tested positive in Argentina after attending a meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the government said.

His peers in the defense, development planning, justice, education and government ministry portfolios have also tested positive.

Bolivia has recorded some 686,000 coronavirus infections and nearly 20,000 deaths among its nearly 12 million people.