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The Chinese government has added a product containing bear bile to treat critical COVID-19 cases. After temporarily banning the wildlife trade in the country, the China National Health Commission published a list of recommended coronavirus treatments. Wildlife conservation advocates are upset over the mismatch in messaging by the government.

Tan Re Qing, a substance containing bear bile, is normally used to treat bronchitis and other respiratory infections. There’s no evidence that bear bile treats coronavirus. In China, it’s legal to collect bear bile from captive bears, but not from wild bears. But wild bears are still caught illegally and are still at risk due to increased demand.

Aron White, wildlife campaigner for the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) told National Geographic, “There’s a consistent preference among consumers for the wild product, which is often regarded as more powerful or ‘the real deal,’” White says. “So, having this legal market from captivity doesn’t reduce pressure on the wild populations—it actually just maintains demand that drives poaching.”

The irony of treating a disease caused by animals by killing animals to treat it is not lost on activists. Dr. Jan Schmidt-Burbach, Global Head of Wildlife Research and Animal Welfare of the animal charity World Animal Protection told the MailOnline, “It’s tragic and ironic that the recommended treatment for severe cases of COVID-19 is suggesting the consumption of a wild animal product in response to a pandemic born from handling wild animals.”

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Read more about protecting yourself from coronavirus. Check the CDC website for more information on how to protect yourself and check our latest article to learn how COVID-19 differs from the flu.

Scientists believe that the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, started at an exotic animal market in Wuhan, China. You can help stop the incidence of viruses like these by signing this petition to ban the wildlife trade.

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