Desperate for any Coronavirus care, Afghans flock to herbalist’s ‘vaccine’

By Mujib Mashal, Fatima Faizi, Najim Rahim and Taimoor Shah

Every day, thousands of people swarmed Hakeem Alokozai’s herbal clinic in Kabul seeking their three drops of his COVID-19 “vaccine.” Some carried IV drips, others oxygen cylinders. Some were brought in ambulances, others in the back of Toyota station wagons. They were laborers, officers of the security forces and even lawmakers in the country’s parliament.

When the Afghan Health Ministry first tried to shut down Alokozai’s operation several weeks ago, residents were furious — they protested, blocking roads and burning tires. Even after laboratory tests showed that his concoction was nothing but several types of narcotics, the response was: So what? The government has since forced him to leave the city.

The rush on the herbalist in Kabul nonetheless points to Afghans’ rising desperation as the coronavirus overwhelms their country’s struggling health system amid a bloody war with the Taliban.

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