DOST to study virgin coconut oil as cure for COVID-19
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will be conducting clinical studies on how virgin coconut oil (VCO) can be used as treatment for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which currently still has no approved vaccine or cure.
In a statement on Wednesday, Science Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said the DOST will be partnering with the University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) and Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to conduct “hospital-based and community based” studies on the antiviral properties of VCO.
The first study titled “Virgin Coconut Oil and Omega-3a Adjunctive Therapy for Hospitalized Patients with Covid-19” will be conducted at the UP-PGH, where the VCO will serve as a supplement to the daily treatment regimen of COVID-19 positive patients.
“(This) aims to assess the possible benefits of VCO if given to patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 in addition to the drugs being assessed in the clinical trials,” Dela Peña said. “This arm may possibly run for a minimum of one month or until the minimum number of patients have been achieved.”
The study will be led by Dr. Marissa Alejandria, director of the Institute of Clinical Epidemiology of the National Institute of Health of UP Manila. This is in cooperation with the DOST and the UP-PGH Clinical COVID-19 Research Group and the Metro Manila Health Research and Development Consortium.
A parallel study will be conducted for persons under investigations at isolation facilities and hospitals in Metro Manila and Calabarzon region. This will be conducted in collaboration with the DOST-Calabarzon and the PCA.
The DOST – Food and Nutrition Research Institute will take the lead in the community-based study, where VCO will be incorporated in the food provided to PUIs.
“The study aims to assess the possible benefits provided by VCO for patients with COVID-19 as well as contacts and other high-risk groups,” Dela Peña said, noting that the dietary supplementation may possibly run for at least 4 weeks.
This will be conducted in cooperation of the DOST – Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, and the PCA.
The DOST is banking on the study conducted January by Dr. Fabian Antonio Dayrit, professor at the Ateneo de Manila University on the potential use of coconut oil as a safe antiviral agent against the novel coronavirus.
In a research published on Jan. 31, Dayrit and Dr. Mary Newport, proposed the conduct of clinical studies, citing studies that support the potential of coconut oil, lauric acid and its derivatives as effective and safe agents against viruses, such as the SARS-COV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.
“Given the considerable scientific evidence for the antiviral activity of coconut oil, lauric acid and its derivatives and their general safety, and the absence of a cure for (COVID-19), we urge that clinical studies be conducted among patients who have been infected with (the virus). This treatment is affordable and virtually risk-free, and the potential benefits are enormous,” they wrote.
The DOST funded the ongoing study of Dayrit in partnership with ADMU and the Duke University-National University of Singapore Medical School.
According to Dela Peña, the DOST also funded the shipment of a sample volume of VCO to Singapore to join a group of compounds being tested as possible treatment for COVID-19.
To date, there is still no cure or vaccine for the viral disease approved by the World Health Organization, but a number of treatments are being developed and tested by different countries all over the world.
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